The 78-year-old private security guard who was killed in a hospital emergency room Wednesday by an inmate who took the guard’s gun was not supposed to be assigned to guard inmates because of concerns about his fitness for duty, a Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office major said Thursday.
A manager for the security company later denied such an order was made.
The tragic incident at Miami Valley Hospital left the guard, Darrell Holderman of Carlisle, dead after a gunshot wound to the back of the neck. The inmate, 30-year-old Brian Booth of Miamisburg, died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound after escaping into the parking lot.
“With all due respect to the individual who was murdered and to his family, the Sheriff’s Office had officially requested that Merchants no longer assign him to guard inmates because we had concerns about his fitness for duty,” said Major Matt Haines with the sheriff’s office. “A different Merchants officer relieved the deputy sheriff at the hospital, and the Sheriff’s Office was unaware that Mr. Holderman had been assigned by Merchants later in the day.”
A Merchants manager who did not give his name said Holderman had performed more than 100 prisoner watches, and while there were discussions about not using him, no such order was issued.
The company posted about the incident on its Facebook page Wednesday night.
“It’s with a heavy heart that Merchants Security must share that we have lost one of our dearest and most dedicated officers today,” Merchants Security Service said. “Our hearts are broken for our friend and coworker and his family. We appreciate all the outpouring of love and support we have received but will have to keep all important details private until all investigations are completed. Thank you for your support and understanding during this difficult situation.”
Dayton Police Major Brian Johns described a chaotic scene that took place at Miami Valley Hospital’s emergency room Wednesday about 9:45 a.m.
Johns said a large struggle took place prior to the shooting in a private emergency department room where the inmate was receiving treatment while detoxing. Holderman had multiple skull fractures and lacerations to his hands from fighting back, Johns said.
No surveillance footage exists from inside the private room because no cameras are inside treatment areas. Investigators reviewed video from the hallways and emergency room waiting area.
“It was alarming to watch,” Johns said. “This is definitely a tragedy, but it could have been so much more worse. This man was running through the hallway pointing a gun at people. People were ducking for cover.”
Johns said the video appeared to show Booth seeking an exit.
“ ... And he’s pointing a gun in the hallway at people until he actually finds the exit and comes out right there where you walk into the emergency room waiting area, and there are police officers there from Miami Valley, there are civilian people, there are workers, and he’s pointing a gun at everybody,” Johns said.
Credit: Montgomery County Sheriff's Office
Credit: Montgomery County Sheriff's Office
A nurse confirmed Booth was handcuffed in the room approximately half an hour before the shooting, Johns said. Police found a handcuff on the bedrail and leg shackles on the floor with a key in them.
Johns said as a general rule inmates are handcuffed at the hospital but sometimes that changes due to medical procedures. He said police are still going through the medical records, but it’s his understanding that at the time of the incident, no procedure was taking place.
“I don’t know if we’ll ever really know if he was handcuffed when this all happened,” Johns said.
Miami Valley Hospital officials said they are reviewing safety protocols.
“No matter the circumstance, the care and safety of our patients, visitors and staff are our top priority,” a hospital spokesperson said Thursday. “Miami Valley Hospital’s emergency department remains a safe place to receive care. While our policies and procedures were followed during Wednesday’s unprecedented event, it is also an opportunity to review safety protocols and evaluate whether any enhancements should be made internally and with other organizations.”
The hospital spokesperson said Wednesday was a very difficult day for the emergency department staff and their families. While the teams are trained to respond to trauma cases, the spokesperson pointed out that they are human.
“We have had counselors and chaplains onsite to provide comfort and support to members of our workforce,” the spokesperson said. “We will continue to care for our teams as we process through this experience and the challenges health care continues to face.”
Holderman was a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, Johns said, and he was a “go-to” guard for Merchants.
“He works a lot to support his family, and he was used a lot for security like this,” Johns said.
The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office has contracted with Merchants Security and other local security firms to guard inmates admitted to hospitals for more than 20 years, said Montgomery County Sheriff Rob Streck. He said Wednesday’s critical incident was the only one involving an inmate with security at the hospital. The hospital also said it is not aware of another incident like the one Wednesday.
“We are reviewing safety protocols in the wake of this incident to determine if any enhancements should be made with our teams and our external law enforcement partners,” the hospital spokesperson said.
Haines said all private security guards must pass a background check and have an Ohio Department of Public Safety Division of Homeland Security registration card. The provider is responsible for training, including the Ohio Peace Officer Training requirements for the armed officers.
Streck has ordered deputies to stay with any inmates admitted to the hospital until the investigation is completed. The sheriff’s office uses deputies and private security to guard inmates at the hospital, depending on the threat level.
“Not all of our inmates who are at hospitals are there with private security,” Streck said. “Very often deputy sheriffs are with them depending on their classification, past crimes and behavior.”
Booth was booked into the Montgomery County Jail on Sunday on a probation violation. He was previously booked for minor drug-related or traffic offenses, Streck said.
“There is nothing in this individual’s past that led anyone to believe that such a horrific incident would occur,” he said.