Dayton VA Medical Center security measures are under review after police said a retired employee shot a worker Monday and escaped before he was arrested at another hospital.
The shooting, reported at the center just after 12:15 p.m., prompted a lock down of the VA's West Third Street campus and a room-by-room search for the shooter.
The suspect, Neil R. Moore, 59, of Dayton, was arrested at Good Samaritan Hospital by hospital security about 30 minutes after Paul Burnside, 61, suffered a gunshot wound to the ankle while struggling with Moore over the weapon, Dayton police Chief Richard Biehl said.
FBI Supervisory Special Agent Tim Ferguson said a revolver likely used in the shooting was found in Moore's vehicle, which was located in the driveway at his sister's house on Hermosa Drive in Trotwood.
Dayton VA spokesman Ted Froats said VA medical campus officials have started reviewing security procedures after the shooting. They will have additional meetings Tuesday on what actions might be taken. No immediate changes have been made.
"I would imagine we are going to have many meetings over the next few days to assess what we did right and what we could improve," Froats said. Patients who have appointments today should report to the VA at the scheduled time, he said.
Moore retired from the VA after working several years in the housekeeping department, officials said.
The shooting took place in a basement employee break room and in front of several witnesses, authorities said.
Burnside was treated at the VA emergency room and later transferred to Miami Valley Hospital, Premier Health spokeswoman Nancy Thickel said.
Biehl said Burnside and Moore may have known each other, but a motive for the attack is unclear.
"There are a number of options and there are possibilities, but until we explore those and resolve our investigation, we won't know with certainty," Biehl said.
Moore's family also had questions.
"We're just as devastated as everyone else," said Stephanie Brooks, who identified herself as Moore's sister-in-law. "We're all confused and trying to find out what happened." Brooks, speaking for the family, did not take questions from reporters.
Biehl said Moore, 6710 Shadowbrook Drive, likely visited the VA hospital with the intention of causing violence.
"I think it is likely he came here with some intentionality to be involved in a shooting, but once again, we need to have more time to really be further along in our investigation and determine that with certainty," Biehl said.
The FBI's Ferguson said the bureau will handle the investigation and he expects the U.S. Attorney's Office to file charges soon against Moore. FBI agents conducted interviews and executed search warrants, he said.
In the moments after the shooting was reported, police from Dayton and Kettering, deputies from Montgomery County, rangers from Five Rivers MetroParks, agents from the Ohio Division of Natural Resources and agents from the FBI responded. Cruisers blocked access to some parts of the VA campus, while officers searched between and underneath vehicles in a parking lot west of the main campus building. A "code silver" - an order to employees to lock all office doors and place patients in secure locations - was issued by VA authorities about 12:15 p.m., said Lori Walker, an employee with the medical center's mental health department.
Moments after that, police officers entered the main hospital building. Some employees then were instructed to leave the campus main hospital building, Walker said.
"I'm very nervous, I know that," Walker said at about 1 p.m. as she left the VA campus on foot via the Liscum Drive gate. Walker said she did not hear any gunfire.
Around 1 p.m., police dispatches indicated Moore's sister had taken him to Good Samaritan. By about 1:25 p.m., officers were interviewing witnesses, according to an employee and police dispatches. Law enforcement searched the hospital tower room by room in case there were additional victims, police said. The FBI instructed those searching to look for victims or evidence.
Employees are trained for emergencies, said Glenn Costie, president and CEO of the Dayton VA, who was off campus at the time of the shooting. "When I arrived (15 minutes later), there was a sense of command, there was a sense of calm," he said. "Staff knew what to do in response to the code we issued to shelter in place."
Costie said patients, visitors and staff were sheltered in place until they could be safely evacuated by police. He said the VA hospital is open to the public and does not have metal detectors. But he said the VA has its own police force and staff are trained to report suspicious behavior and activity.
Eugene Dubell, 84, was sitting in the lobby of the VA hospital after undergoing heart monitoring when an announcement came over the loudspeaker of a code silver. Dubell said police armed with assault rifles stormed the building and escorted him and other patients outside. The former Marine said he was not scared. and keeping calm in emergencies was his occupation.
But Dubell said he immediately believed that it was an active shooter situation. "We knew what it was - of course we did," he said.
Dubell and other veterans who receive medical treatment at the VA said they were not surprised by the shooting because they have occasionally witnessed altercations and outbursts at the facility.
Keith Holycross, 60, of Fairborn, said the VA helps people who endure considerable physical and emotional pain and suffering and he has seen patients grow upset and abusive when they do not receive the medication or treatment they desire.
"I have seen some us old-timers go off in primary care," he said. Holycross said he believes the shooting will cause the VA to increase its security measures and install metal detectors and other screening devices.
The VA is offering mental health services to any employee or veteran who would like counseling as a result of the shooting.