A psychiatric patient who killed his caseworker — and grazed his psychiatrist before the doctor pulled out his own weapon and fired back — has a lengthy history of gun arrests, violence and mental health problems, authorities said.
Dr. Lee Silverman emptied his gun’s chamber [sic], striking patient Richard Plotts several times, Delaware County District Attorney Jack Whelan said. Plotts by then had shot the caseworker in the face and fired several shots at Silverman, including one that grazed his temple and another that struck his thumb, he said.
Plotts had 39 unspent bullets on him when he was wrestled to the ground at Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital in Darby, just southwest of Philadelphia, and police believe he had planned to use them.
“If the doctor did not have a firearm, (and) the doctor did not utilize the firearm, he’d be dead today, and I believe that other people in that facility would also be dead,” Whelan said.
Hospital policy bars anyone except on-duty law enforcement officers from carrying weapons on campus, said a Mercy Health System spokeswoman.
The hospital said Friday it was thankful for the “brave and difficult action” taken by Silverman and his colleagues. It said he remains a full member of the medical staff and “we look forward to Dr. Silverman’s return to serving patients at our hospital.”
Plotts had complained to Silverman previously about the gun policy.
Whelan said he believes Silverman, not Hunt, was Plotts’ target. He said that when the caseworker was shot, Silverman crouched down behind a desk to avoid being shot also.
“He was able to reach for his weapon, and realizing it was a life-or-death situation, was able to engage the defendant in the exchange of gunfire,” Whelan said.
Silverman told police he was at his desk, behind a computer screen, when Plotts pulled a gun from his waistband and killed Hunt. The psychiatrist ducked behind a chair, pulled his gun from his pocket and fired off six or seven shots, authorities said.
Silverman was recuperating at home Friday. His wife said he did not want to discuss the shooting.
Source: Associated Press (npr.com)