NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Bronx-Lebanon Hospital’s staff shared stories Friday about their life-saving actions when a former employee went on a shooting rampage last week.
They also said a lucky coincidence may have prevented the situation from becoming even worse.
As CBS2’s Ali Bauman reported, pain was evident in the faces of the doctors and nurses after Dr. Henry Bello opened fire with a riffle he snuck in under a lab coat last Friday.
Dr. Tracy Tam was killed and six others wounded before Bello set himself on fire, then shot and killed himself.
Bello’s former colleagues said he seemed normal, casually strolling into the hospital.
“They were really caught off guard, because he greeted some of the nurses. He said hello to some staff and appeared to target physicians or white coats at that time,” Physician-in-Chief Dr. Sridhar Chilimuri said.
“No hospital is ever trained for an active shooter who sets two floors on fire at the same time,” Chilimuri continued.
But the staff was about as prepared as it could have been. They had coincidentally sat through an active shooter lesson just hours before.
“It was recommended we do simulations and drills. And I’m sure when the first code silver came, some of the staff said, ‘Ah here comes the drills.’” Dr. Magdy Mikhail said.
All but one of the victims were hospital employees.
As shots rang out on the 16th and 17th floors, many doctors and nurses put their duty to help ahead of their own safety.
“Hospital personnel’s instinct is to go save. They really can’t run away when one of their colleagues is bleeding.”
“We were afraid when we responded, but what was the alternative?” Dr. Dave Livingstone said.
While the hospital was on lockdown, patients barricaded doors with whatever they could find. But of course, many emergency patients still needed immediate care.
Dr. Mikhail helped save a newborn baby who was severely ill.
“I approached the squad team, who obviously didn’t want anybody to move,” he said. “They provided an armed escort for me and the baby and the nurse.”
A hospital spokesperson said three of the victims are still being treated, but all are in stable condition. The spokesperson also said the hospital has been overwhelmed by the number of phone calls from patients asking how their doctors are recovering.
Some of the victims suffered gunshots to their hands, stomach and neck.