Investigators are looking into an elderly heart patient's possible "psychiatric issues" after he allegedly tucked a revolver into the folds of his hospital gown and shot a nursing supervisor who tried to wrest the gun away.
The 85-year-old patient, Stanley Lupienski, shot himself once in the leg during the scuffle in Danbury Hospital's cardiac unit Tuesday, police said. He remained under guard Wednesday.
Witnesses told police that nurse Andy Hull, a 35-year-old former Marine, jumped in to disarm Lupienski when he pulled the gun out from under his gown and pointed it at another staff member. Hull was shot three times. He was being treated Wednesday in the hospital's intensive care unit for injuries that were described as serious but not life-threatening.
Lupienski, of Brookfield, is charged with first-degree assault, first-degree reckless endangerment, unlawful discharge of a weapon and carrying a pistol without a permit, police said. He will be arraigned in Danbury Superior Court when he is able to leave the hospital or a judge will arraign him in his hospital room, Danbury police Capt. Thomas Wendel said Wednesday.
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Wendel said investigators believe Lupienski "may have had some psychiatric issues," and are looking into whether they played a role in the shooting. A motive hasn't been established.
The hospital's Web site says Hull, of Bethel, is a former Marine who worked his way up from a patient care technician to his current supervisory spot. A brief profile on the site says that what he "loves most about his job is the combination of clinical skills and compassion it requires."
"The individual who was shot heroically intervened in defense of another co-worker," hospital President Frank Kelly told the Hartford Courant.
Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton said Wednesday that Hull sustained very serious injuries, but that "he's pulled through very well so we're really optimistic."
Mary Consoli, president of the Danbury Nurses Union Unit 47, said the union wants to work with the hospital to update and strengthen security procedures.
"We're appalled and saddened by the tragedy at Danbury Hospital, where our members work every day to care for patients ... It was a very traumatic experience for everyone," Consoli said Wednesday.
Danbury Hospital officials called the shooting an isolated incident.
Bonnie Michelman, director of police, security and outside services for Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, said there is no specific formula that fits all hospitals nationwide on how to predict and prevent such incidents.
Metal detectors at entrances slow down visitors and staff, but some hospitals put high-risk people in areas with cameras or have handheld metal detectors, said Michelman, board chair and past president of the Illinois-based International Association For Healthcare Security and Safety.
"Hospitals are microcosms of cities, and what hospitals deal with are people not always in a rational state, maybe having psychiatric issues or substance issues or suicidal issues," Michelman said. "People are there at very high-stress times."
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