TOMS RIVER, N.J. – An elderly man shot his ailing wife to death in her bed in a Toms River hospital on Friday before turning the gun on himself, authorities said.
Toms River police chief Michael Mastronardy said the 88-year-old man was in critical condition with a gunshot wound to the head. Shortly after the shooting occurred, he was airlifted to the trauma center at Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune.
Mastronardy would not release the names of the shooter or his wife, pending notification of relatives, and he did not expect that would be completed until at least Saturday.
It was not immediately clear what the 87-year-old woman was being treated for at the hospital in Toms River. Mastronardy said the couple lived in Holiday City, a retirement community in nearby Berkeley Township.
The shooting took place inside the woman's room on the hospital's second floor at about 12:20 p.m., authorities said. A second patient who shared the room with the woman was unharmed and was being questioned by detectives on Friday afternoon.
Mastronardy would not say whether the shootings appeared to be intended as a mercy killing. He said the man was standing by his wife's bedside when he opened fire.
"It's a situation where someone takes ill, and this is a result of that sometimes," Mastronardy said.
Hospital staff immediately placed the facility under a lockdown until police were able to determine that no other patients, visitors or staff were in danger. The lockdown lasted 10 minutes, officials said, and the hospital — which is just west of the Garden State Parkway in Ocean County — reopened shortly after the shooting.