A report of gunfire at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Downey Tuesday prompted a massive law enforcement response and an evacuation as authorities scoured the facility, but no shots were actually fired, and an upset patient who allegedly claimed to have a weapon was detained.
No injuries were reported.
Downey police and county sheriff’s deputies went to the hospital at 9333 Imperial Highway shortly before noon after receiving a report of shots being fired. Police quickly reported that a suspect had been detained.
Police and deputies moved into Building A of the medical complex and conducted a room-by-room search as they sought out any possible victims or other suspects.
People inside were urged to shelter in place, but eventually workers and patients could be seen walking out of the building with their hands in the air as officials slowly cleared the facility. By early afternoon, authorities confirmed that no injuries had occurred.
Witnesses told reporters at the scene that the trouble originated with an apparently disgruntled man near the hospital’s psychiatric ward.
A woman who was inside the hospital told ABC7 said she was meeting with a doctor when “we started hearing screaming and yelling outside, and cussing, a lot of cussing.”
“He was saying, `I have a gun and people are gonna die,”‘ the woman told Channel 7.
She said she and the doctor locked themselves in the room and stayed there for about an hour before police eventually cleared the floor and moved them to a holding area before allowing people to leave in small groups.
She said she did not actually see the suspect, and she did not hear any actual gunfire, but the man could be heard throwing things around.
“He was saying profanity, a lot of profanity, and looking for one particular person,” the woman told ABC7. “He said people are gonna die, I have a gun and I’m gonna break everything in here. And you just heard things hitting the wall, hitting the ground.”
She said the man was apparently looking for a nurse or “receptionist that told him he was late for his appointment and he was very upset about that.”
“I thought it was like a movie,” she said. “You just see this stuff on movies, you know?
Other witnesses said the man threw something through a window — possibly resulting in the initial reports of gunfire. Multiple witnesses said they heard the man claim he had a gun.
People who were evacuated from the hospital were initially taken to a Jack in the Box fast-food restaurant parking lot, and later moved to a nearby park while law enforcement continued searching the building.
Kaiser Permanente issued a statement confirming that all appointments at the hospital were canceled for the rest of the day.
“The safety of our patients, employees and physicians are paramount,” according to the hospital. “We recognize the stress that can be brought on by a situation like this. We’re offering behavioral health services and support to our patients, employees and physicians who were onsite.”