Tim Grooms, 59, was shot on the seventh floor of the hospital on Walton Way, according to authorities.
Charles William Gorrell, 85, of Sudlow Lake Road in Aiken County, was charged with murder and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime, according to Richmond County sheriff’s Capt. Scott Peebles.
Gorrell was being held without bond at the Richmond County Jail, Peebles said.
According to Peebles, Grooms is the nephew of Gorrell’s wife, who was being treated for an undisclosed condition. The two men had been involved in a longstanding dispute over family members, he said.
Grooms was shot at least twice in the upper body, Peebles said. The sheriff’s office responded to a call of “shots fired” at 3:09 p.m.
Hospital spokeswoman Rebecca Sylvester said the shooting took place after the victim and a male family member had an argument in a mutual relative’s room on the hospital’s general medicine floor. The patient was not injured.
After the shooting, the suspect immediately put down the gun and surrendered to hospital security, Sylvester said. He was in the custody of hospital security when sheriff’s deputies arrived.
There were no witnesses to the shooting except the people in the room, she said.
People inside the hospital at the time reacted with alarm and disbelief.
Sharbae Walker was in the ICU waiting room on the sixth floor when she heard running from the floor above her. A voice then came over the speaker saying the building was on lockdown.
“We were scared,” she said. “We all looked at each other, wondering what was going on.”
Someone in the room got a phone call from a friend on the seventh floor who said there had been a shooting. Walker said they were nervous, but she commended the hospital’s quick reaction.
“The hospital handled it very well,” she said.
There are no metal detectors or pat-downs to get into the hospital. Officials at other area hospitals said they don’t employ such measures, either. University has its own security force, and its members were the first responders.
Sylvester said no one else in the hospital was in any danger. She said the hospital will re-evaluate security and procedures, which she said they do when such incidents occur.
“We work and we train every day to respond to these types of things,” she said. “Certainly we will look at it to see if we could have done things differently.”
Peebles said an autopsy on Grooms will likely be done today by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Crime Lab.