On Feb. 27, a doctor at the West Palm Beach VA Medical Center went from being a doctor to being a hero to being a patient, all in a matter of minutes, all because of a man who managed to smuggle in a gun on his motorized scooter.
Larry Ray Bon, a 59-year-old man and double amputee, is also a U.S. Army Veteran whose double-amputee status was not a direct result of his stint in the military.
The disgruntled Bon came into the hospital in Riviera Beach, Florida, and was soon deemed to be mentally unstable or dangerous to others or himself. He was moved to the ER at around 6:30 p.m. when things started to get really dicey.
According to WABC-TV, he was being prepared for a mental health evaluation when he started to scream about cigarettes, took out a gun that had been hidden somewhere on his scooter and fired three shots.
According to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, two doctors, who for safety/privacy reasons are being referred to as BG (male) and EA (female), were nearby, and BG put the ER on active-shooter alert.
BG came up with a plan to distract the shooter. He used the oldest trick in the book: telling the shooter that some cigarettes were just behind him and then taking the opportunity to grab the distracted shooter’s weapon.
The two wrestled and Bon fired three more shots. One of those hit the good doctor in the neck, exiting at the base of his skull. Another bullet hit an employee in the buttocks.
By now it was an all-out scramble to secure the weapon and keep Bon contained until authorities arrived. The gun was handed to EA, who passed it back to BG and then another employee as Bon, who’d fallen off his scooter, clawed after them to get it back.
Eventually, they managed to pin the shooter to the wall with a chair until the police got there and handled the situation.
“I’m not going to release his name at this time, but he’s doing well, and he did a heroic thing today,” Justin Fleck with the Miami FBI said of BG. “Probably saved a lot of lives.”
Fleck also asked for the community’s help gathering more information on Bon, as his past was a bit patchy.
“We believe he may be homeless here in the area,” he said. “If anybody is familiar with him and can provide us any information about where he might be staying at, or some associates that could help us paint the picture of who he is, we’d appreciate a call into the FBI.”
“The injured employee has been released from the hospital and is doing well,” said Mary Kay Rutan, a spokesperson with Veteran Affairs, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
“We thank him for his efforts to subdue the suspect.”
While some are calling for more stringent security that would keep an incident like this from happening again, the West Palm Beach VA Medical Center wrote on Facebook that they receive training so they can deal with these kinds of situations.
“The West Palm Beach VA medical center continuously conducts safety training and exercises to help ensure appropriate responses to active threat situations,” they wrote on Feb. 28. “That training was put to great use yesterday.”
“Please note that the facility is secure and remains operational for scheduled appointments and procedures. Our team is strong and remains ever-grateful for the support of our Veterans and their families, our staff, legislative members, law enforcement, and community.”
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