CLEVELAND – An 82-year-old man who shot and wounded himself outside an Ohio hospital may have been inspired by the murder-suicide of an elderly man who was visiting his wife at the same hospital last week, police said.
A man pulled his car up to the emergency room at the Cleveland Clinic's Hillcrest Hospital in Mayfield Heights on Tuesday and shot himself twice with a handgun, Detective Lt. Chris Sonnhalter said. The man was rushed into surgery at the hospital and was listed in critical but stable condition on Wednesday morning. His name has not been released.
On Friday, shots rang out from the fourth-floor room of Dorothy Milstein, a 77-year-old woman who had been admitted for a change in mental status and back pain, according to a police report. She was shot multiple times. Sprawled on the floor was her husband, Albert Milstein, who had apparently shot himself in the forehead, police said.
"I really do believe this was a copycat situation," Mayfield Heights Police Chief Joe Donnelly said at a news conference Tuesday.
But Sonnhalter on Wednesday cautioned that authorities are still investigating the two shootings and cannot say for sure whether one inspired the other.
"Maybe he got the idea to do it because of Friday's shooting," Sonnhalter said. "But I don't think it was a copycat because they're two totally different scenarios."
Albert Milstein left a suicide note, which was not released by police, and a briefcase containing a wrist watch and some papers pertaining to Medicare. Dorothy Milstein was scheduled to be discharged from the hospital on the day she died, but her husband had filed an appeal because he felt she was not well enough to go home.
According to the police report, a nurse saw Albert Milstein shooting his wife through a privacy curtain. By the time she entered the room, both were dead.
"Unfortunately, these were events that were not preventable," said Eileen Sheil, a spokeswoman for the clinic. "When a patient comes to visit his wife in the hospital, there's not a high suspicion that something like this is going to happen."
Sheil said hospital shootings are very rare. She noted that all Clinic hospitals have round-the-clock security, which has been beefed up in light of the shootings.