Accused hospital shooter had history of psychiatric commitments

The patient who allegedly killed a caseworker at a hospital near Philadelphia was committed following suicide attempts in 2010 and 2013.
By Frances Burns  |  July 25, 2014 at 12:23 PM
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DARBY, Pa., July 25 (UPI) -- The gunman who shot a caseworker at a suburban Philadelphia hospital had a history of drug arrests and suicide attempts, police said.

Richard Plotts, 49, allegedly killed Theresa Hunt, 53, with a shot to the face during a meeting Thursday with her and Dr. Lee Silverman in an outpatient unit at Mercy-Fitzgerald Hospital in Darby. Silverman, who was grazed by a bullet, then used his own gun to critically wound Plotts, Delaware County District Attorney Jack Whelan said.

Yeadon Police Chief Donald Molineux said that if Plotts had not been shot, he would probably have continued shooting until he ran out of ammunition.

"Without a doubt, I believe the doctor saved lives," Molineux said.

Other staffers had already called police after someone heard yelling, looked into the office and saw Plotts holding a gun to Hunt's head.

Plotts had a criminal history that included drug and weapons offenses and the robbery of a Delaware bank in 1995, although he dropped the money he had stolen when a dye pack exploded. Upper Darby Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood said Plotts was committed for psychiatric treatment in 2010 and 2013 because of suicide attempts.

Ben Garcia, a neighbor at an apartment building in Upper Darby where Plotts lived until about a year ago, said his behavior was strange.

"I tried to stay away from him," Garcia said. "He's a big guy, always very sweaty . . . seemed like he was strung out on drugs or medication."

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