Wellness Center Reopens After Deadly Shooting as Suspect Awaits Arraignment - NBC 10 Philadelphia

Wellness Center Reopens After Deadly Shooting as Suspect Awaits Arraignment



    A doctor pulled a gun of his own when a patient opened fire at the Mercy-Fitzgerald Wellness Center in Yeadon, PA. The suspect, Richard Plotts, shot and killed his caseworker, according to investigators. Now police are looking into where the suspect obtained his weapons. Christine Maddela has more. (Published Monday, July 28, 2014)

    A Delaware County wellness center is open for business again after a shooting last week that left a caseworker dead and a doctor injured.

    The suspect in the shooting at the Sister Marie Lenahan Wellness Center located on the Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital campus along Lansdowne Avenue continued to await arraignment after suffering gunshot wounds when the doctor returned fire.

    Richard Plotts, a 49-year-old psychiatric patient with a history of run-ins with the law, remained hospitalized Monday morning after being shot by the doctor, identified as Dr. Lee Silverman.

    The wellness center remained closed Friday but reopened Saturday and again as scheduled Monday morning. Services at the center include walk-in X-rays and lab services, according to the hospital's website.

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    Plotts, whose past includes time in mental health facility and guilty verdicts for disorderly conduct and firearms violations, and guilty pleas to assault and forgery charges, faces 10 counts related to the wellness center shooting including first-degree murder, criminal homicide, aggravated assault, weapons and related charges. Authorities have yet to set an arraignment date.

    Plotts had 39 unspent bullets on him when he was wrestled to the ground at Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital in Darby, just southwest of Philadelphia, and police believe he had planned to use them.

    "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 said.

    Whelan said Plotts was upset about Mercy-Fitzgerald Hospital's ban on guns when he held Dr. Silverman and Theresa Hunt hostage at the wellness center on Lansdowne Avenue Thursday afternoon. Plotts then fired a .32 caliber revolver, killing Hunt, who was his caseworker, and grazing the physician in the head, officials said.

    "We feel like we lost a family member," said Hunt's neighbor Marge LaBrum. "When we used to say to her, 'Theresa, how do you take care of them when they're mentally ill and could hurt you?' she said 'It's a chance I have to take because I have to take care of them.'"

    Police still do not know how Plotts, a convicted felon with a history of mental health problems, obtained the weapon he used in the shooting.

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    Silverman reportedly used a semi-automatic handgun he was carrying to return fire on Plotts, shooting Plotts in the stomach and the arm.

    According to Whelan, Silverman routinely carried a gun to his workplace, despite the hospital's strict policy against it.

    "It is against hospital policy for anyone, except for law enforcement on duty, to carry weapons while anywhere on our campus," Mercy-Fitzgerald hospital spokesman Bernice Mananallo Ho said.

    Why the doctor was carrying a weapon and how long he had been coming to work armed is still unknown.

    Delaware County officials say Silverman did have a gun permit from Montgomery County. He continued to recover from his wounds after being released from the Hospital at the University of Pennsylvania.

    Mercy-Fitzgerald Hospital released a statement supporting the actions of Silverman, Dr. Jeffrey Dekret and John D'Alonzo, all hospital employees who intervened following the shooting.

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    "We are thankful for the swift action of Dr. Lee Silverman, Dr. Jeffrey Dekret, John D’Alonzo and the other colleagues and visitors who took brave and difficult action during yesterday’s tragic event.  We extend our condolences to Theresa Hunt’s family, and we are praying for Dr. Silverman’s speedy recovery.  We look forward to Dr. Silverman’s return to serving patients at our hospital.  We will do all we can to support the victims during this difficult time," the statement read.

    Hospital officials did not confirm whether they may consider changing the 'no guns' policy in light of the incident but said, "We are reviewing our policies and procedures to ensure a safe environment."

    Hunt's funeral is set for Wednesday starting at 6 p.m. at John Stretch Funeral Home on Eagle Road in Havertown, Pennsylvania.