News Article Details

Florida VA hospital shooter was veteran receiving mental health treatment, FBI says

South Florida Sun Sentinel - 2/28/2019

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. _ Two doctors who treat military veterans were working at emergency room desks when a colleague screamed Wednesday night that someone had a gun.

The physicians, at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Riviera Beach, heard about three shots.

One of the doctors, identified by his initials B.G. in a federal criminal affidavit, alerted everyone in the emergency room that they were in an active shooter situation.

B.G. saw a man on a scooter, who the FBI said was Larry Ray Bon, 59, an Army veteran and double amputee.

Bon was armed with a black handgun and screaming about cigarettes, according to the affidavit.

Earlier Wednesday, a doctor had admitted Bon to the emergency room to receive mental health treatment under the state's Baker Act, the affidavit said. The Act allows a person to be briefly, involuntarily hospitalized if the person is considered mentally unstable or a danger to him or herself or others.

To distract Bon, B.G. told him there were cigarettes behind him as he rushed to disarm him.

As the men struggled over the weapon, Bon fired about three more shots.

One bullet grazed B.G.'s left ear, entered his neck and exited near the base of his skull, the affidavit said.

Despite his injury, the doctor managed to wrestle the gun free and handed it to another doctor, a woman who was identified as E.A. by the FBI.

E.A. was against a wall as Bon, who had apparently fallen off of his scooter, crawled toward her.

She held the gun up out of his reach and shielded herself with a chair.

To keep the gun from Bon, she threw it back to B.G. When it fell to the floor, B.G. gave it to a nurse.

Bon tried to attack E.A., and a patient helped her, the affidavit said.

They used a chair to pin Bon against a wall until police arrived and took him into custody.

Investigators later found a bullet had struck a second hospital employee in the buttocks.

While speaking with reporters Wednesday night, Justin Fleck, the assistant special agent in charge in Miami, called B.G.'s actions "heroic."

Bon's disability was not related to his military service, which was brief and during the 1970s.

The wounded doctor underwent surgery at St. Mary's Medical Center in West Palm Beach.

Veterans Affairs spokeswoman Mary Kay Rutan released a statement Thursday afternoon that said, "The injured employee has been released from the hospital and is doing well. We thank him for his efforts to subdue the suspect."

Rutan said the facility "continuously conducts safety training and exercises to help ensure appropriate responses to active threat situations, and that training was put to great use yesterday."

Federal law mostly prohibits guns in federal facilities, Rutan said. She cited a statute that makes exception for members of the military and law enforcement who may be on official duty who are authorized to have weapons inside those buildings.

The VA was not releasing B.G.'s name because of privacy concerns, she said.

Bon is facing a charge of assaulting certain officers or employees with a deadly or dangerous weapon.

He was found to be indigent during a federal magistrate hearing.

His detention hearing, when bond may be discussed, is scheduled for March 7.

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(c)2019 Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)

Visit the Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) at www.sun-sentinel.com

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