Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda said the morning shooting that prompted a lockdown of Erie County Medical Center wasn't a random act. Police searched the building adjacent to the hospital's main building for the shooter more than four hours after the victim was gunned down inside.
Law enforcement officers arrive at the scene of a shooting at Erie Count Medical Center (AP)
There were four shots fired according to witnesses. Police are looking for a person of interest identified as Timothy Jorden Jr., a former Green Beret working as a trauma surgeon at ECMC.
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Jorden, 49, a former Army Special Forces soldier and medic who became licensed to practice medicine in New York in 2002, treats patients at the medical center and other major hospitals in the area. He has a medical degree from the University at Buffalo and trained at the Madigan Army Medical Center in Tacoma, Wash.
The shooting prompted a four-hour lockdown of the medical center's 65-acre campus that was lifted at around noon for all buildings except the one being searched by police.
Incoming patients were diverted to another hospital during the lockdown.
Flyers with Jorden's name and picture were distributed to some drivers around ECMC during the noon hour.
SWAT Teams were dispatched to his home and other offices where he may have been.
Police from Evans, West Seneca, and Buffalo were involved. SWAT support came from the NY State Police and the Amherst Police Department.
The victim has been identified as 33 year old Jacqueline Wisniewski, who was a receptionist. Police said the woman was shot several times shortly after 8 a.m. inside a building that houses outpatient services and offices.
Workers at ECMC tell WBEN that the victim was involved in a fight- possibly punched, before being shot several times.
A police helicopter circled over the medical center's campus, which includes a 550-bed hospital. Officials said as many as 400 patients and about half of the hospital's 2,000 employees were on the grounds at the time of the shooting.
"Things are well under control by Buffalo police" and other law enforcement agencies involved in the investigation, Mayor Byron Brown said.
He said state police, Erie County sheriff's deputies and suburban police departments were assisting.
"It's a very sad day for ECMC and our community," said Jody Lomeo, the medical center's chief executive officer. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the victim."
Nikita Patel, a 25-year-old University at Buffalo medical student from Los Angeles, said she arrived at the hospital about 9 a.m. for a class and was kept from entering.
She texted fellow students inside the hospital to find out what was happening.
"They said they're locked in and can't get out of the hospital and I can't go in," Patel said.
ECMC CEO Jody Lomeo issued a statement:
“On behalf of the entire ECMC family, I want to express our sincere condolences to the victim’s relatives and friends – many of whom work here among us. This is an unspeakable tragedy for everyone involved. We initiated grief counseling and employee assistance program protocols, as you would expect for a hospital that any day can be faced with multiple trauma cases. For us, that’s really what this is, a trauma within our working family. I have met today with many members of our day and afternoon shifts to explain as much as we know and offer help.
“At this time, all ECMC officials and staff are taking direction from police authorities who are in charge of this investigation. Their first order of business is to apprehend this individual.
“We are a small town on 65 acres. Workplace and domestic violence – the evidence of which we see every day in our ER – are terrible facts of life in our society. I want the Western New York community to know that ECMC is open and functioning and we are doing all we can to support our employees and patients. We appreciate the outpouring of support for our staff, our patients and ECMC and we ask you to keep the victims in your prayers.”