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Gunman Kills 2 Co-Workers, Self at Long Beach Hospital

Los Angeles Wave, News Report, Posted: Apr 18, 2009

A Long Beach Memorial Medical Center employee killed two co-workers at the hospital Thursday, sending patients and workers scrambling into offices and bathrooms for cover, before walking outside and fatally shooting himself.

Mario Ramirez, 50, of Alhambra, who worked in the hospitals pharmacy, shot co-workers Kelly Hales, 56, of Redondo Beach, and Hugo Bustamante, 46, of Cypress, before shooting himself, according to the Long Beach Police Department.

Police responded to a report of shots being fired at the hospital in the 2800 block of Atlantic Avenue at 11:47 a.m. and found the two victims shot near the entrance to the emergency room, Long Beach police Chief Anthony Batts said.

Bustamante was pronounced dead at the scene. Hales was pronounced dead later, police said.
When additional police units arrived, officers found Ramirez dead outside the north entrance to the emergency room, Batts said.

Witnesses told reporters at the scene that Ramirez casually walked through the hospital lobby and repeatedly shot one man, then another, before taking his own life.
Charity Perez, whose husband works at the hospital, described Ramirez as a great, wonderful guy.

Ive been crying, my kids and I have been crying because we all know him, Perez told KCAL. Hes a really nice guy. Always came to work, always helped when you needed help with medicine so I dont know what caused it.

Several witnesses said they watched Ramirez walk outside after the shooting and kill himself.

We heard five shots and we took cover as well, and then over the horizon we could see a man with a gun pointed at himself, city employee Dave Chamberlain, who was working near the hospital when the gunfire erupted, told KCAL.

And I did look away. Shots were fired, you could hear people groan and at that point police converged on the area. I was able to get a little closer, was curious, and there was a gentleman laid out what looked like to me the shooter.

Laura Harris told reporters she was in the hospital when she saw Ramirez, and he just pulled a gun and he shot him in the leg, and then the young man fell. Then he stood over him and shot a couple more times.

Harris said after that then he took the gun up under his chin.

Perez told KCAL that Ramirez may have been recently informed that he was going to be laid off. A hospital official said there were no plans for layoffs.

A motive has not been determined, Batts said.
Diana Hendel, the hospitals chief executive officer, said patient safety was the hospitals primary concern during the shooting.

Our first priority of course was to ensure that our patients were safe and well cared-for, and I can assure you our patients are well cared-for and are completely safe, Hendel said.

Families of the victims received counseling from the hospitals chaplains service, Hendel said.
Justin Hawkins, a patient who was inside the hospital, told KCAL that hospital workers herded visitors into doctors offices to get them out of the gunmans path.

Like I said, the doctors did the best job possible, Hawkins said. They made us feel safe. They got us into rooms as fast as possible, making sure nobody was in the hallways, making sure everyone was fine, and then the cops showed up really fast and took care of it.

Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster thanked the hospital staff and police for their swift response, which protected patients successfully.

Due to the swift action of the highly trained staff of Memorial Hospital and the Long Beach Police

Department, the property was immediately secured and no patients at the hospital were injured during this incident, Foster said.

As the police department continues to investigate this, I want to extend our thoughts, prayers and sympathies to the families of the victims.

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