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Doctor: Patient killed caseworker before gunfight

DARBY, Pa. (AP) - A doctor told police that a patient fatally shot a caseworker at their hospital complex before the doctor pulled out his own gun and exchanged fire with him and wounded him, a prosecutor said Thursday night.

Dr. Lee Silverman, a psychiatrist, was grazed in the temple during the gunfight in his office with patient Richard Plotts, according to Delaware District Attorney Jack Whelan.

Whelan identified the caseworker killed Thursday afternoon at Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital as Theresa Hunt, 53. Hunt, who was from Philadelphia, had accompanied Plotts to an appointment with Silverman at a psychiatric crisis center next to the hospital in Darby, just southwest of Philadelphia, authorities said.

"When the caseworker was shot, (Silverman) crouched down behind the desk to avoid him being shot," Whelan said. "He was able to reach for his weapon, and realizing it was a life or death situation, was able to engage the defendant in the exchange of gunfire."

A struggle ensued and spilled out into the hallway, Whelan said. Another doctor and a caseworker jumped in to help Silverman and secure Plotts' weapon, he said.

The motive for the shooting remained unclear late Thursday, although Whelan said Plotts, of Upper Darby, might have had issues with the doctor over his treatment plan. However, it's unclear if that's why Silverman was armed, apparently against hospital policy.

"We do believe that there were some issues between the doctor and the patient, but whether or not he actually feared him is unclear," the prosecutor said. "From all accounts, (he) would have acted in self-defense."

Whelan said that Plotts, 49, was still in surgery Thursday evening at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, while Silverman had been treated and released. Telephone calls to the doctor's home went unanswered.

Plotts doesn't have a listed home phone number. Court records in Delaware County show a man of the same name and age with a lengthy criminal record, but Whelan was uncertain if they were the same person.

The hospital has a policy barring anyone except on-duty law enforcement officers from carrying weapons on its campus, a spokeswoman for the Mercy Health System said.

But Yeadon Police Chief Donald Molineux said that "without a doubt, I believe the doctor saved lives."

"Without that firearm, this guy (the patient) could have went out in the hallway and just walked down the offices until he ran out of ammunition," the chief said.

Two guns were recovered from the scene, Whelan said.

Staff members had heard loud arguing inside Silverman's office during the appointment. They opened the door and noticed the patient had a gun pointed at the doctor, so they quietly closed the door and dialed 911, Whelan said. Gunshots were heard a short time later, just before 2:30 p.m.

Plotts, severely wounded from several shots, emerged from the office, and another doctor and a caseworker helped wrestle him to the floor of the hallway and grabbed his weapon, Whelan said.

"They acted vigilantly. They acted bravely," he said.

The exchange of gunfire occurred on the third floor of the Wellness Center at Mercy Fitzgerald, a 204-bed community teaching hospital. Authorities said there are no surveillance cameras in the doctor's office or the waiting area outside. They also said the center had no metal detectors.

Patients waiting in the first-floor lobby reported a tense scene when police arrived and ordered everyone out. Most of the patients were elderly.

"I dozed off, and I heard the cop shouting, 'Come on, come on, get out!'" said Millicent Russell, of Lansdowne, who was waiting for a 3 p.m. appointment. "There were people with walkers and canes and stuff. All these cops were outside running here and there with these guns."

Pennsylvania Hospital Shooting Leaves 1 Dead, 2 Injured

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Thomas July 25 2014 at 1:06 PM

Wait for it....wait for it....the leftist, anti-gun zealots are formulating their response to the doctor saving, not only his OWN life, but possibly the lives of others, as well. How will they spin this to where the doctor is the bad guy and the psycho is just misunderstood? As a gun owner for 49 years, I am curious as to how a man under the care of a psychiatrist obtains a firearm or keeps a firearm after being diagnosed as mentally ill.

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15 replies
ColdNKC July 25 2014 at 1:03 PM

and I quote "it's unclear if that's why Silverman was armed, apparently against hospital policy." However a nut case and criminal with a weapon doesn't seem to be a concern. Wow, we are one messed up country.

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2 replies
Rich ColdNKC July 25 2014 at 3:16 PM

I'm sure the shooter was armed, against hospital policy, also. But we once again see how well those "No guns" signs worked to protect those behind them.

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Calvin ColdNKC July 26 2014 at 8:36 AM

Yup, I noticed that too.They didn't seem to care about a mentally ill person having a weapon.

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michaelnel4449 July 25 2014 at 1:15 PM

This is one example of why concealed carry laws exist. If someone should become so angry they lose it in a public place, there is someone to fight back...
Good job Doctor.

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2 replies
BLACKMQQN michaelnel4449 July 25 2014 at 2:13 PM

LETS ALL ARM OURSELVES AND HAVE A GOOD OLE FASHIONED SHOOT OUT IN THE STREETS.

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4 replies
justiceforpatperjury michaelnel4449 July 26 2014 at 8:35 AM

Here in Jasper County Indiana the corruption keeps LAW ABIDING CITIZENS from protecting from others. Making good people break the law by protecting themselves ( better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6)

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Ken July 25 2014 at 1:39 PM

The Psychiatrist had a gun because he knows there are mentally unstable people freely walking around who don't care about gun laws.

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1 reply
zooks1 Ken July 25 2014 at 2:30 PM

Boy you would have made Goebbels proud with that statement.

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3 replies
buckeye3118 July 25 2014 at 1:36 PM

Amazing this even got a mention, considering how often a citizen exercising their 2nd amendment rights prevents a tragedy. But the usual media is too busy slobbering over and coverning for PopStar MESSiah.

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1 reply
rivera8787 buckeye3118 July 25 2014 at 2:24 PM

Buck....they didn't want to mention it because there is no excessive drama for them to spin AGAINST gun ownership. Good guy wins...bad guy loses......
= gun owners 1 gun haters 0

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fox12ga July 25 2014 at 1:20 PM

nut doctors should be allowed to cary a gun if they feel threatened that would be common sence

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2 replies
Elaine fox12ga July 25 2014 at 2:42 PM

I have worked with several doctors who were as unstable as the patients...they just hid it better. One was charged several years ago with firing a gun into a vehicle on I-24. There was a family with children in a minivan. The doctor was upset because they passed him on the highway. Then there was the case where the doctor tried to blow someone up with a bomb...the one who had a "hit list" in a safety deposit box and another who wore a football helmet whenever he rode in a car.....see where I'm going with this? :)

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6 replies
bjamebon3 fox12ga July 25 2014 at 5:19 PM

Fox, And guess what you just solved what is wrong with this gun policy. The NRA won't let our congress people pass laws that would restrict nuts from getting a gun in the first place. These yoyo s need some sort of mental test to try to pick up whether they are capable of having owning a gun.

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1 reply
hokanut bjamebon3 July 25 2014 at 9:12 PM

That's a flat out lie. The NRA supports mental health records being made available to the DOJ during background checks. The liberal aclu fights to keep those records out of DOJs hands. Liberals lies have destroyed all of your credibility. Nice job.

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debnaert July 25 2014 at 1:05 PM

GOOD OLD CIVIL RIGHTS! Thanks dumbocrats!

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debnaert July 25 2014 at 1:03 PM

Strange.... ever since the LEFTIST have taken OVER this country all we wee is murder and injustice. WE, the decent Americans, will TAKE back this country in sort order!

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7 replies
jrb359 July 25 2014 at 3:12 PM

If the Doc wasn't armed, how many people could this loon actually have killed?

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1 reply
Tom jrb359 July 26 2014 at 12:00 AM

The good Doctor was smart enough to know just what type of low life he was dealing with and precribed a dose of," fix what ales your dumb ass".

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duey35 July 25 2014 at 3:09 PM

Good for the doctor. Better to lose your job than your life.

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3 replies
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