Son accused in fatal shooting of mother in N.H. intensive care unit
LEBANON, N.H. — A hospital here went into lockdown Tuesday after a 70-year-old woman was fatally shot in the intensive care unit by her son, who was later taken into custody, according to the medical center and city officials.
New Hampshire Attorney General Gordon J. MacDonald identified the alleged shooter as Travis Frink, 49, of Warwick, R.I.
The victim was identified as Pamela Ferriere, 70, of Groton, N.H.
The initial investigation “revealed the purpose of his visit was to kill his mother,” MacDonald said at a news conference shortly after 8 p.m.
More than one shot was fired, he said. No one else was injured.
Frink signed into the visitors desk at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, the state’s largest hospital, at 1:15 p.m. Tuesday, MacDonald said.
Police received a 911 call reporting shots around 1:25 p.m., MacDonald said.
He said Frink was apprehended without incident by Lebanon police as he was trying to leave the grounds of the hospital.
Dr. Joanne M. Conroy, chief executive and president of the hospital, called the shooting “an incredibly stressful and tragic day for the affected family.”
After the shooting, the hospital went into a “code silver,” which calls for immediate evacuation. As of 5:30 p.m., staff were allowed back in the hospital, and by 6:20 p.m. SWAT teams had cleared the hospital, he said. Investigators expected to clear the scene at the hospital’s ICU within four hours, MacDonald said Tuesday evening.
The investigation is ongoing. “There is no threat to the public,” MacDonald said.
John Kacavas, general counsel and chief legal officer for the hospital, said the center’s emergency department and intensive care unit were operating late Tuesday afternoon.
“I just want to assure our patients and their families and the Dartmouth-Hitchcock community that we’re working very hard to ensure as little interruption to patient care as possible,” he said.
Nervous and somewhat relieved to hear that a suspect was in custody, Lora Charbonneau of Groveton, N.H., stood watching her husband, Tim, direct traffic at the intersection of Mt. Support Road and Lahaye Drive, a short distance from the medical center. When she heard about the incident, Charbonneau was on her way to visit her mother-in-law, who was in the hospital getting X-rays.
“We finally got a message that she’s in lockdown and with a nurse, but she’s OK,” said Charbonneau, who added that her husband is a sergeant with the Lancaster, N.H., police.
The medical center runs practice drills twice a year to prepare for potential mass casualty events, such as a bus crash, or an active shooter at the hospital. “If it happens, we want to be as prepared as possible,” said Mike Barwell, the hospital’s media relations manager.
When practice runs are held, though, e-mail and text alerts to hospital staff are clearly marked “this is a drill,” he added, which wasn’t the case Tuesday. “So we all jumped up and said, ‘Is this real?’ and began seeking confirmation from our incident command. Very quickly it became clear this was an actual incident.”
The command post usually is in the medical center, but couldn’t be set up there because the hospital was a potentially dangerous place, so hospital emergency officials convened in a nearby office building.
The medical center has plans in place to address patient safety, staff safety, and ongoing medical procedures, such as surgery, Barwell added.