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Threat locks down Athens hospital

Monday, Jan. 13, 2014 4:06 PM
Last updated 9:25 PM
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ATHENS, Ga. -- Athens Regional Medical Center was under partial lockdown Sunday afternoon after hospital officials learned a man might be on his way there with plans to shoot a doctor, Athens-Clarke County police said.

Police said the 26-year-old Watkinsville man blamed a doctor for the death of his brother. The brother was technically alive, but on life support, in an intensive care unit of the hospital at the time of the alleged threat, Athens-Clarke County police Maj. Clarence Holeman said.

“The individual supposedly made the threat because he blamed a doctor for allowing his brother’s condition to happen,” Holeman said.

Police said they responded to the Prince Avenue medical center after security officials reported they “believed a credible armed threat existed against the hospital and operating staff.”

Someone who was with family members of the man in ICU told a hospital guard about the alleged threat. A relative of both the man in ICU and the man supposedly with a gun called a family friend to warn that the Watkinsville man was on his way to the hospital to kill a doctor.

It was later learned that the doctor retired in 2012 and currently lives in Florida, police said.

Officers obtained a photograph of the alleged gunman from his Facebook page and also had a description of his pickup truck.

An officer who had been inside the hospital at the time of the alleged threat ordered hospital security to initiate a lockdown, then ran to his patrol car to get a shotgun, police said.

The man supposedly on his way to shoot the doctor arrived soon after and his truck was quickly surrounded by officers in a parking deck, police said.

No guns were found on the Watkinsville man, but police did recover a pistol ammunition magazine from inside his truck.

No arrests were made, but Holeman said that police planned to monitor the situation, with extra patrols scheduled for the private practice from which the allegedly threatened doctor retired.

ARMC spokesman Mike Pilcher said only the emergency room entrance was affected by the lockdown, which he said lasted about 10 minutes.


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