by John R. Fischer
, Senior Reporter | October 08, 2021
A nursing assistant shot and killed his coworker Monday at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia before engaging in a shootout with police that left him and two police officers wounded.
Suspect Stacey Hayes, 55, was captured on surveillance video walking up behind Anrae James, 43, and shooting him with an AR-15 assault rifle. When James tried to run, Hayes followed and kept firing shots, with at least two bystanders present. The incident occurred just after midnight, reported the Philadelphia Inquirer
Hayes fled the hospital in a U-Haul truck and was later found around 1 a.m. near Fairmount Park by four officers. He fired at them, with police returning fire and striking Hayes in the upper body and neck. One officer shot in the elbow was taken to Penn Presbyterian Hospital in critical but stable condition. Another hit in the nose was in stable condition and later released. Hayes was also in critical condition, but all three are expected to survive, according to NBC 10 Philadelphia
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Hospital staff, meanwhile, were unable to save James. “Our hearts are broken as we stand together to remember our colleague and recognize his teammates who tried to save him and protect other patients in the area,” said Jefferson spokesperson John Brand in a statement.
The shooting took place on the ninth floor of the hospital. A motive for the attack has not been determined, and it was not clear if Hayes was working at the time. He was said to have known James well. Authorities said they did not know how or why he came to the hospital but that he had on scrubs and was in parts of the hospital where only employees are allowed.
While not appearing to be carrying a rifle or wearing body armor when he shot James, police said he had both when firing at the officers, including a semiautomatic assault rifle. Police later retrieved a Kevlar vest and weapons, confirmed Commissioner Danielle Outlaw and Homicide Captain Jason Smith.
Authorities did not say what charges he would face, but court documents revealed that he successfully petitioned the courts to return four guns to him back in June, including two handguns, a shotgun and AR-15 rifle. They did not state why they were seized to begin with. “I am not a threat to anyone, I just want to be able to protect myself and my family if needed,” Hayes wrote in his petition, according to The Inquirer.
The shooting is one of at least 418 homicides in Philadelphia in 2021, which police statistics have ranked as the most violent year for the city in decades.
Hospital employees were notified before 1 a.m. of the incident and told to seek shelter. One group barricaded themselves in a break room for nearly four hours. One anonymous employee told the Inquirer that he and his coworkers were “terrified,” and had been on the floor where the shooting took place. “We tried our best, but we couldn’t save him,” he said of James.
The hospital plans to review the incident “to ensure best practices in our safety protocols” said Brand. He did not explain how Hayes may have accessed the hospital floor, fired a weapon and then left. None of the four officers were identified.
James is survived by his father and three children.