Jacobi staff call for increased security as ER shooting suspect remains at large

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An unresponsive woman who was dropped off at Jacobi Medical Center the morning of Tuesday, Feb. 15 is dead.
Photo Adrian Childress

While police are still on the lookout for a man who opened fire and injured one person in the vestibule of the Emergency Room waiting area at Jacobi Medical Center in the Pelham Parkway section of the Bronx around noon on Tuesday, Jacobi staff told the Bronx Times that Tuesday’s incident was another in a string of violent altercations at the medical center over the past few months.

At approximately 12:30 p.m., a 35-year-old man was shot in the left forearm, and police said the gunman — identified as a male dressed in a black hoodie, red shirt and jeans– is still on the loose after he fled in an unknown direction. The suspect, according to police, fired four shots before leaving the scene at approximately 12:34 p.m. Police said a dispute between the two had broken out in the lobby of the hospital.

The victim is expected to survive his injuries. However, Jacobi residents and staff said that Tuesday’s incident was “not a surprise” and was an escalation of months of violent incidents that have endangered Jacobi staff and patients.

“I’m not surprised that we had an active shooter today, it was just a matter of time,” said Amrit Saini, a resident at Jacobi. “I’m surprised that we don’t have more measures to protect our residents and other staff.”

Saini, who said he has been physically attacked by a patient times six times over the last 18 months, said that Jacobi also had to confiscate four firearms from patients in various areas of the hospital in recent months, which has prompted a new procedure where hospital police will wand any “agitated” patients arriving at the emergency department.

However, the majority of patients will not be wanded upon entrance to the ED,” Saini said. “The emergency department administration is doing everything they can to help with safety concerns but we also need help from NYC Health + Hospital and the city to increase funding to help protect the healthcare staff when we are treating our patients in the Bronx.”

A second-year resident, who requested anonymity fearing retaliation from her employer, said that Jacobi had seen a pattern of violence and that she had been a victim of an assault by an unruly patient over the summer, but that New York Health and Hospitals failed to beef up its security following patterns of attacks on residents.

Police sources told the Bronx Times that Tuesday’s incident was a “targeted attack” and that the victim and suspect knew each other. However, authorities also confirmed that there were no pre-checks or weapon searches conducted in the emergency room before the shooting took place.

In a statement, NYC Health + Hospitals said that no employees at Jacobi Medical were injured in the gunfire, and called the incident “cowardly.”

“This was a cowardly act in a space where New Yorkers come for healing and care,” the statement reads. “Our health care heroes swiftly took care of the shooting victim and took actions to protect the other patients in the waiting room. Our immediate focus is on caring for the patient and ensuring the safety of our staff. We are working closely with the NYPD as they conduct their investigation.”

One eyewitness, David Rivera told members of the media that he was visiting his mother, who has cancer, when he heard “active shooter” and said he saw a large police presence converge on the perimeter of the building. The hospital was temporarily in a lockdown, and the scene outside the hospital saw patrol cars and crime scene tape surrounding the building.

City Councilwoman Marjorie Velázquez arrived outside the hospital just after 1 p.m., condemning the shooter and offering words of solidarity for the Pelham Parkway community she represents.

“This is a hospital. This is someone getting care in an urgency, how dare you?” said Velázquez, a Democrat who is in her first term on the council. “It’s certainly not something that my community is used to. We’re a strong community, we have been here for each other. When the Bronx fire happened my community was the first up to help.”

City Councilwoman Marjorie Velázquez speaks to the media following the shooting of a 35-year-old man in Jacobi Medical Center on Tuesday. Photo Adrian Childress

Tuesday’s shooting is another in a long string of violent events throughout the city that have put pressure on Democrat Mayor Eric Adams’ and his 25-day-old administration to curb gun violence. Komal Bajaj, chief quality officer at Jacobi Medical Center said that “gun violence is a public health emergency.”

On Monday, Adams unveiled his blueprint to address the recent string of high-profile shootings in the Bronx and East Harlem by immediately ramping up law enforcement and deploying more officers in the streets and subways. Additionally, Adams is reinstating the NYPD’s controversial anti-crime street unit, where officers dress as plain-clothed civilians to get guns off the street, with an emphasis on preventative public safety.

Reach Robbie Sequeira at rsequeira@schnepsmedia.com or (718) 260-4599. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes. 

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