Baystate lockdown ends in suicide outside Springfield ER

Wednesday, February 19, 2014
SPRINGFIELD - A four-hour standoff with police outside the emergency department at Baystate Medical Center ended early Wednesday when a 54-year-old West Springfield man fatally shot himself in the head, police reported.

The emergency department at Baystate was locked down for about four hours, but the hospital continued to admit emergency patients through the ambulance entrance, according to spokesman Keith O'Connor.

The drama unfolded after the man, who has not been identified by authorities, shot his wife about 7:30 p.m. Tuesday as they argued in a car while they were returning to West Springfield from South Hadley. The shooting occurred on Piper Road in West Springfield, and the man then drove his wounded wife to Baystate. She had alerted police when she called 911 from the car.

The woman, who also has not been identified by authorities, was brought to the emergency department at Baystate and then admitted to the hospital. According to Springfield Police Sgt. John Delaney, she is in good condition and cooperating with authorities.

After bringing his wife to the hospital, the man returned to his red Fiat in the parking lot outside the emergency department and put a gun to his head, police said. "Trained negotiators did their best to talk the emotionally distraught (man) into giving up his gun. (He) had the gun pointed at his head during the entire 4 hours," Delaney wrote in a statement posted about 1:40 a.m. on the Springfield Police Department's Facebook page.

Delaney said the man shot himself at 12:02 a.m. and was rushed into the trauma unit at Baystate where he was pronounced dead at 12:23 a.m. The man's name will be released later Wednesday morning, Delaney said.

Delaney praised Springfield Police officers who he said "did a tremendous job blocking off the area of the parking lot and showing great restraint during the four-hour ordeal." They were assisted by West Springfield and Massachusetts State Police officers, and the Baystate security force made sure "the hospital was secure," Delaney said.

"At no time was any patient, employee or civilian ever in any danger," he added. "The hospital was never shut down."

Hospital officials tweeted early Wednesday, "We're saddened by tonight's events, but we're also thankful for the rapid and strong support of our local and state police. Thank you!"