ORANGEBURG, S.C. (AP) - A nurse was shot inside a South Carolina hospital emergency room on Wednesday by a man who had carried a weapon when he sought mental health care the day before and was turned away, a state representative said.
Authorities took the man’s gun on Tuesday and told his girlfriend that it was OK to bring him back Friday for more treatment. Instead, he showed up at the emergency room with another gun, and randomly opened fire, wounding a nurse.
The nurse was immediately taken into surgery after the shooting around 8:45 a.m. Wednesday at the Regional Medical Center in Orangeburg, the hospital said.
He was in critical condition Wednesday afternoon, Regional Medical Center President Charles Williams said at a news conference.
The gunman was taken into custody and the emergency room was shut down while Orangeburg County deputies investigated, the hospital said in a statement .
The shooter will be charged with assault and battery with intent to kill, said Orangeburg County Sheriff Leroy Ravenel, who did not release the shooter’s name.
Democratic Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter of Orangeburg provided more details on the House floor Wednesday. She said the Orangeburg County administrator told her a nurse was shot by someone with mental problems.
The man’s girlfriend had brought him to the mental health facility after calling deputies and mental health providers on Tuesday saying he needed help, Cobb-Hunter said. They discovered he was armed, and took his gun, but said they didn’t have room to admit him, the lawmaker said.
“They took his weapon yesterday. They told the girlfriend, ‘Bring him back Friday, he is OK right now,’” Cobb-Hunter said. “They went home yesterday. He came back this morning to be seen with another gun.”
Cobb-Hunter asked for prayers for the nurse fighting for his life, but said the shooter and his family need good thoughts too.
“We ask for prayer for the shooter as well, because with mental challenges there are always demons that one is fighting,” Cobb-Hunter said.
Ravenel and two deputies were the first to arrive at the hospital three minutes after the shooting was reported, the sheriff said.
A hospital security guard already had the gunman in custody, Ravenel said.
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