Friday, July 25, 2014

The smoking guns of Mercy Fitzgerald

The door to my office is almost always open.

If it's closed, a buzz usually spreads through the newsroom. That's because the closed door often is a sign of bad news. It was again yesterday, but not for the reason you might think.

I was actually on a conference call along with our regional editorial board with Gov. Tom Corbett, who is in the midst of a statewide tour to push his quest to have the Legislature take up pension reform.

But toward the end of the call, a knock on the door interrupted me. Now, normally my staff does not deign to open that door when it is closed and they know I'm inside.

It better be pretty important.

It was.

Associate Editor Joe Hart handed me a note that indicated reports of shots being fired at Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital in Darby Borough. We had two staffers, a reporter and photographer, en route.

The next couple of hours are a blew.

A few hours later - and after one of the worst nights of sleep I've had in a long time, including a recurring nightmare I just can't seem to shake - several things stand out to me.

First and foremost, please a life was lost in the Wellness Center across from Fitz yesterday. Let's not lose sight of that. Theresa Hunt, 53, a caseworker at the facility, was shot and killed. We mourn for her.

We also mourn for one more instance of gun violence. Only this time it hit home, right here in Delaware County.

I don't think there is much argument that this involves one more situation involving a person who clearly should not have had a gun.

The suspected shooter, Richard Plotts, from Upper Darby, is believed to have had serious mental issues as well as a long list of problems with the law.

It will make those who struggle with gun control issues in this country simply that much more exasperated.

But there is another angle you will no doubt hear about this story, one that is often pointed out by gun advocates.

When the gunfire broke out inside the Wellness Center, Plotts was stopped in large part because Dr. Lee Silverman returned fire on him with his own gun, according to Delaware County District Attorney Jack Whelan.

The two then struggled and spilled out into the hallway, where other staffers helped subdue the suspect.

We do not as yet know what touched off the altercation or what Plotts' motives were. We know gunshots were exchanged.

Hunt was killed. Silverman suffered a graze wound to the head, and returned fire, critically wounding Plotts.

We don't know if Plotts had any intention of shooting others in the facility.

Thankfully, we didn't find out, due to the actions of Dr. Silverman. Interestingly enough, the hospital apparently has a policy against employees - other than security or police - carrying firearms.

Yeadon chief Donald Molineaux did not hesitate to hail the doctor's actions.

He "without a doubt saved lives," the chief said. "Withouth that firearm, this guy could have went out in the hallway and just walked down the offices until he ran out of ammunition.

Don't think for a minute this scenario is not going to be repeated again and again by those who insist that the answer to stopping a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.

I don't expect that argument to end anytime soon.

Call it the smoking guns of Mercy Fitzgerald, the day when the gun crisis in this nation once again hit home.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well I hate to say it but I will, people arnt getting the help they need, when we reach out hourly employees dont care bout nothing but their paycheck. And ins throws you out the door, #CRYFORHELP blame it on guns all you want I know people who reached out for help and were turned away. I called officials they didnt care

July 25, 2014 at 8:41 AM 
Blogger Dannytheman said...

Again, let me echo your sentiments about the loss of a good woman's life. She and her family will be mentioned in my prayers. I am not sure this incident will kick off a national debate, but I know it will be added in as additional proof that guns save lives, even if we concur in this case the doctor was the only one.
I wish there was a national debate, I truly do. A debate that has facts and figures instead of emotion and hyperbole.
You know Phil, I do this as a passionate hobby, I also recommend everyone who owns a gun gets training. (I don't mandate it, I encourage) I spend my free time, rare is that is, educating and debating the facts as I have them. In California that keeps me plenty busy.
The doctor might get suspended? For breaking an employee rule? Will he get fired? Maybe. But he has his life. When I was on the Daily Times Video Show in your office, I told you that people/teachers are making a conscious decisions to ignore the rules. Gun Free Zones are incredibly stupid. The smart folks are making the decision to be prepared for the worse and no one is the wiser.
The counties answer? Metal detectors at the doors. I am sure some idiot administrator is getting pricing right now them for every door and the people who will run them. Stupidity reigns.

July 25, 2014 at 9:12 AM 

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