Man detained after reports of shots fired at Kaiser Permanente in Downey
DOWNEY, Calif. (FOX 11 / CNS) - A report of gunfire at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Downey on Tuesday prompted a massive law enforcement response and an evacuation as authorities scoured the facility, and while a man with a gun was arrested, police said no shots were fired.
No injuries were reported.
Downey police and county sheriff's deputies went to the hospital at 9333 Imperial Highway shortly before noon after receiving a report of shots being fired. Downey police Chief Carl Charles said officers quickly located and detained a suspect and recovered a weapon.
"He surrendered and he gave himself up without incident,'' Charles said. "... A handgun was found. There was a report of six to seven gunshots heard. We have not been able to confirm that as of yet.''
Police identified the suspect as 34-year-old Jesus Chavez of Lynwood and said he was armed with a handgun that was recovered at the scene.
Police continued to scour the building in search of any possible additional suspects. People inside the hospital were urged to shelter in place, but eventually workers and patients could be seen walking out of the building with their hands in the air as officials slowly cleared the facility.
Witnesses told reporters at the scene that the trouble originated with an apparently disgruntled man near the hospital's psychiatric ward.
A woman who was inside the hospital told news outlets said she was meeting with a doctor when "we started hearing screaming and yelling outside, and cussing, a lot of cussing.''
"He was saying, 'I have a gun and people are gonna die,''' the woman told news outlets.
She said she and the doctor locked themselves in the room and stayed there for about an hour before police eventually cleared the floor and moved them to a holding area before allowing people to leave in small groups.
She said she did not actually see the suspect, and she did not hear any actual gunfire, but the man could be heard throwing things around.
"He was saying profanity, a lot of profanity, and looking for one particular person,'' the woman told news outlets. "He said people are gonna die, I have a gun and I'm gonna break everything in here. And you just heard things hitting the wall, hitting the ground.''
She said the man was apparently looking for a nurse or "receptionist that told him he was late for his appointment and he was very upset about that.''
"I thought it was like a movie,'' she said. "You just see this stuff on movies, you know?
Other witnesses said the man threw something through a window -- possibly resulting in the initial reports of gunfire. Multiple witnesses said they heard the man claim he had a gun.
People who were evacuated from the hospital were initially taken to a Jack in the Box fast-food restaurant parking lot, and later moved to a nearby park while law enforcement continued searching the building.
Kaiser Permanente issued a statement saying the disturbance occurred in the Orchard Medical Building at the hospital campus, and the facility was locked down during the investigation. Shortly after 5 p.m., Kaiser officials said the "hospital, emergency and urgent care departments and most of the Orchard Medical Office Building" had reopened.
"We are working to reschedule all missed appointments that were canceled due to this incident," according to Kaiser. "The safety of our patients, employees and physicians are paramount, and we're grateful there were no injuries.
"We recognize the stress that can be brought on by a situation like this and are offering behavioral health services onsite to members, employees and physicians."
Chavez was booked on suspicion of making criminal threats, police said, adding that "all the evidence indicates that Chavez acted alone."