Police Tuesday were still trying to learn why a gunman walked into Brigham and Women’s Hospital and shot a doctor twice, before fatally shooting himself in an exam room. The gunfire prompted some workers to barricade themselves in hospital rooms while others fled the building, police said.
“No one knew what to do at first,” said Massachusetts College of Pharmacy student Jason Mai. “But then people started walking briskly out.”
The shooting occurred just after 11 a.m. on what had been a normal and busy day on the second floor of the Carl J. and Ruth Shapiro Cardiovascular Center, at 75 Francis St. in the Longwood area of Boston.
Police identified the victim as Stephen Pasceri, 55, of Millbury. The doctor, who has not been identified, suffered what Boston Police Commissioner William Evans described as “life-threatening injuries.”
Police were interviewing witnesses and seeking a motive, Evans said at an afternoon press conference at the hospital. He said the gunman walked into the hospital asking for the doctor he later shot.
“Why and for whatever reason is something we’re looking into,” said Evans.
Witnesses described the suspect to police as about six feet tall, wearing glasses, beige khakis and a blue sweater.
Policing arriving at the hospital searched the second floor of the building, where they found the man dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, along with a gun, in an exam room. He had shot the doctor in a nearby lobby area, Evans said. The doctor was rushed to Brigham and Women’s emergency room.
Evans said police don’t believe the gunman was a patient of the doctor. It was unclear what kind of gun was used or where in his body the doctor was wounded. The doctor, according to the hospital, was in surgery as of late Tuesday afternoon.
Initially, the hospital said in in two separate statements that the gunman had been apprehended, but Evans said at the press conference he had taken his own life.
“It makes me sick to my stomach,” said JoAnne Wilson of East Falmouth, who was visiting her brother in the hospital.
“I’ve come out of those elevators so many times in the last week. You never feel like that would happen here. You feel bad for the doctor,” she said as news helicopters buzzed overhead.
A hospital spokeswoman said the hospital did not have metal detectors at its entrances.