On the 16th floor of the New York City hospital, the scene was intensely violent and chaotic as terrified staff and patients huddled in locked rooms, when a former physician shot Dr Tracy Sin-Yee Tam, a family medicine doctor, with an AR-15 assault rifle hidden under his white lab coat. He then attempted to set himself on fire, and sprawled on the bloody spatter, next to his female victim.
In the senseless shooting rampage, the ex -physician had stormed into the ward where the 32-year-old Queens native was covering another colleagues shift. At least six people, including a patient and five others who were either doctors or medical students were injured.
Bronx Lebanon Hospital vice president Errol C. Schneer said the improvement of the five others now listed in stable condition is a testament to how "heroically" staff responded to save lives in the face of a horrific tragedy.
"Three have been downgraded to stable, and doing quite well. We are happy with their condition,” the hospital official said. "A victim in stable condition is transferred to another hospital for specialised surgery. One physician remains in critical condition.”
“I’ll be back”: Gunman told he would return to kill ex -colleagues
Earlier, the gunman identified as Dr Henry Bello had sent an email, according to the New York Daily News, blaming colleagues who were alleged to be responsible for his resignation two years ago.
“This hospital terminated my road to a licensure to practice medicine,” the email read. “First, I was told it was because I always kept to myself. Then, it was because of an altercation with a nurse.”
"All the time, he was a problem," said Dr David Lazala, who trained Bello as a family medicine doctor. When Bello quit in 2015, he sent Lazala an email blaming him for the dismissal.
A GoFundMe page was created to help pay for Dr Tam's funeral and a loved one wrote, "She worked extra hours without incentive just to hold hands of patients that are about to pass or just to talk to them and listen to their needs. Tracy Tam was an exceptional, and an extremely compassionate physician. She has touched lives of many."
“It makes you think that anything can happen to anybody,” said Dr Tam’s neighbour, Alena Khaim, overcome with grief, shaking and unable to walk.
Dr Tam who had been with the hospital for almost a year was very "well-liked by the hospital staff," shared Schneer, adding that grief counsellors were available to help employees, patients and their families.
Dr Kamran Ahmed, the intended target of Dr Bello, has no idea why he was singled out as he was not the only person with whom the ex-employee had a problem. He said, “He never argued with me. I don’t’ know why he put my name.”
Ahmed, who specialises in the early detection and treatment of dementia, said Dr Bello “had a problem with almost everybody, so I’m not the only one. That’s why they fired him, because so many people complained.”
“We fired him because he was kind of crazy," Dr. Maureen Kwankam lamented. "He promised to come back and kill us then."
Ex-doctor had a bizarre criminal record
"There are many, many details that we're still putting together," said Mayor Bill de Blasio said. "This was a horrible situation unfolding in a place that people associated with care and comfort, a situation that came out of nowhere."
Described by his ex-colleagues as aggressive, loud and threatening, Dr Bello was given the boot amid allegations of sexual harassment and he had told colleagues he would be back to kill them.
Sources from the New York State Education Department revealed that Bello graduated from Ross University and had a limited permit to practise as an international medical graduate – to gain experience in order to be licensed. The permit was issued on 1 July 2014, and expired in 2016.
While trying to get his licence as a physician, Dr Bello worked as a pharmacy technician at Metropolitan Hospital in Manhattan; but quit the job in 2012 and filed for unemployment. One former colleague at Metropolitan said he would frequently argue with nurses and bristled at being told what to do, but his attorney in the unemployment action claimed the description was contrary to what he knew of his client.
"I'm absolutely shocked," attorney David Wim said. "He was such a nice gentleman. He was very humble, very polite, and very respectful."
A search on his Bronx home by police uncovered the box in which the gun had been packaged. Investigators are checking serial numbers to determine the source of purchase. MIMS
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