Gunman kills nurse at Jefferson, shoots two police officers

Jefferson Hospital
Jack Tomczuk

A 55-year-old man outfitted with body armor and a rifle killed a co-worker early Monday at Jefferson University Hospital and shot two police officers in West Philadelphia, authorities said.

Calls came in from the Center City hospital reporting an active shooter on the 9th floor just before 12:15 a.m., Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw told reporters at the scene.

The suspect, who was wearing scrubs, fatally shot a 43-year-old registered nurse, investigators said, before fleeing in a U-Haul van.

About an hour later, officers patrolling in the Parkside section of West Philadelphia were flagged down and told about a man with a long gun outside the School of the Future, a public high school at 40th Street and Parkside Avenue, police said.

He was wielding what police believe is an AR-15 and was also carrying a handgun, according to Outlaw.

Four officers approached the gunman, who opened fire. Police fired back, shooting him multiple times in the upper body and neck, authorities said.

A 30-year-old officer was shot in the right elbow and taken to the hospital in “critical but stable condition,” Outlaw said. His injuries are expected to require surgery.

In addition, a 32-year-old officer was struck in the nose, police said. He was listed in stable condition. All four of the officers who responded to the situation are assigned to the 18th Police District.

The gunman is also expected to survive.

“When you think about this, this is something typically you would see in a movie or on a TV series,” Outlaw said. “We’re all happy that the injuries tonight didn’t exceed what they could have been.”

Detectives believe the nurse who was killed was targeted, although the exact motive remained unclear Monday.

Authorities did not identify the suspect or the Jefferson nurse who was killed.

The School of the Future was closed Monday as investigators continued to comb the scene.

At Jefferson’s campus, staff and employees discussed the shooting as they ate lunch and sat outside.

“It was a little scary because we found out it was a Jefferson employee,” said Crystal, a student who did not feel comfortable providing her last name.

Initial phone call, text and email alerts that went out to students alerting them of an “active shooter” did not identify the suspect as someone who worked at the hospital, she added.

Angus Culhane, a second-year medical student at Jefferson, was taking a practice test at his home a few blocks away when he heard about the shooting.

“I was worried about anyone that I may know who may be volunteering or on the night rotation,” Culhane told Metro. “I was worried it was a mass shooting.”

Another second-year medical student, Brandon Creisher, said he pictured himself on the hospital floor, where he will be spending a lot more time during his third year.

Jefferson Health, in a statement Monday afternoon, said “there is a flood of sadness for all of us. Our hearts are broken as we stand together to remember our colleague and recognize his teammates who tried to save him and protect other patients in the area.”

“We also value the bravery of our security guards, as well as Philadelphia police who were injured in apprehending the suspect,” the hospital system said. “You are all heroes.”

Counseling is being offered to all employees and patients who were impacted by the incident, according to the statement.

Jefferson affirmed that weapons are not allowed on its campus, saying that it has “comprehensive, consistent security measures and processes” which will be “thoroughly reviewed” in the wake of the shooting.

Mayor Jim Kenney said he visited the wounded officers, and he commended authorities for quickly apprehending the suspect before more people were hurt.

“This is yet another example of weaponry that is far too powerful being in the hands of people who shouldn’t have access to them,” Kenney tweeted. “We need common-sense gun laws to stop these tragedies that have become all too frequent.”

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