Health Law

Shot by patient, psychiatrist pulls gun and fires back, saving many lives, authorities say

A troubled mental patient with a substantial criminal history pulled out a gun Thursday during an appointment with his longtime psychiatrist at a Philadelphia area hospital and shot his caseworker to death, authorities said.

But the toll could have been far worse if the psychiatrist, Dr. Lee Silverman, hadn’t ducked for cover, pulled his own gun and fired back, a local police chief and district attorney told the media. It appears that both the gun police say was used by Richard Plotts, 49, to shoot Theresa Hunt to death and the weapon used by Silverman to protect himself and others were brought to Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital in Darby in violation of the facility’s policy.

“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,” Delaware County District Attorney Jack Whelan told the Associated Press.

Added police chief Donald Molineux of Yeadon: “Without that firearm,” Plotts, who was found with 39 unspent rounds, “could have went out in the hallway and just walked down the offices until he ran out of ammunition.”

Both men emptied their weapons, leaving Silverman with graze wounds and Plotts hospitalized and charged with murder and attempted murder. Authorities said Plotts intended to kill Silverman because he was angry about a hospital rule declaring the facility a gun-free zone.

The Philadelphia Daily News, the Washington Post (reg. req.) and WPVI also have stories.

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