A report of gunfire at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Downey Tuesday prompted a massive law enforcement response and an evacuation as authorities scoured the facility, and while a man with a gun was arrested, police could not confirm if any shots were actually fired.
No injuries were reported.
Downey police and county sheriff’s deputies went to the hospital at 9333 Imperial Highway shortly before noon after receiving a report of shots being fired. Downey police Chief Carl Charles said officers quickly located and detained a suspect and recovered a weapon.
“He surrendered and he gave himself up without incident,” Charles said. “… A handgun was found. There was a report of six to seven gunshots heard. We have not been able to confirm that as of yet.”
Charles said the suspect is a roughly 34-year-old man from Lynwood.
Police continued to scour the building in search of any possible additional suspects. People inside the hospital were urged to shelter in place, but eventually workers and patients could be seen walking out of the building with their hands in the air as officials slowly cleared the facility.
Witnesses told reporters at the scene that the trouble originated with an apparently disgruntled man arguing with staff members.
A woman who was inside the hospital told ABC7 said she was in an examination room with a doctor when “we started hearing screaming and yelling outside, and cussing, a lot of cussing.”
“He was saying, `I have a gun and people are gonna die,”‘ the woman told Channel 7.
She said she and the doctor locked themselves in the room and stayed there for about an hour before police eventually cleared the floor and moved them to a holding area before allowing people to leave in small groups.
She said she did not actually see the suspect, and she did not hear any gunfire, but the man could be heard throwing things around.
“He was saying profanity, a lot of profanity, and looking for one particular person,” the woman told ABC7. “He said people are gonna die, I have a gun and I’m gonna break everything in here. And you just heard things hitting the wall, hitting the ground.”
She said the man was apparently looking for a nurse or “receptionist that told him he was late for his appointment and he was very upset about that.”
“I thought it was like a movie,” she said. “You just see this stuff on movies, you know?
Charles said the man “was causing a disturbance inside the hospital” for unknown reasons.
“One of the Kaiser security personnel went over and contacted him, at which time he threw a chair through a window and produced a handgun,” the chief said.
People who were evacuated from the hospital were initially taken to a Jack in the Box fast-food restaurant parking lot, and later moved to a nearby park while law enforcement continued searching the building.
Kaiser Permanente issued a statement saying the disturbance occurred in the Orchard Medical Building at the hospital campus.
“A suspect has been detained and we believe everyone is safe and that no one was injured,” according to Kaiser. “The facility remains locked down for the safety of everyone onsite.
“The safety of our patients, employees and physicians are paramount,” according to Kaiser. “We recognize the stress that can be brought on by a situation like this. We’re offering behavioral health services and support to our patients, employees and physicians who were onsite.”
Kaiser officials said they are cooperating with police and sheriff’s investigators, and they directed further inquiries to the law enforcement agencies.