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More Details Revealed About Man Who Took Gun to ER

More Details Revealed About Man Who Took Gun to ER

Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes

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Tonya Papanikolas ReportingIt was a frantic scene at St. Mark's hospital Saturday night as a man brings a gun into the emergency room. Officers say it was the kind of situation that could easily have turned tragic, but thankfully no one was hurt. Deputies are now learning more about the man and why he showed up at the hospital to commit suicide.

Police say the man had worked as a truck driver back east but had recently lost his job and was kicked out of his apartment. He had moved around the country and had recently moved to Utah, where he was living out of his car. Apparently it all became too much for him Saturday night.

About 8:30 p.m., a 45-year-old man walked into the emergency room at St. Mark's Hospital and handed employees a note.

Lt. Paul Jaroscak, with the Salt Lake County Sheriff's office, said, "In the note he said he was there to commit suicide, and they were not in danger and that he wanted to donate his organs."

A male nurse took him into a consultation room next to the ER desk and began talking to him. But when the nurse noticed the man had his hand in a small box, he called for help. A sheriff's deputy who works at the hospital responded.

"As he approached that room, the man in the room saw him, pulled his hand out of the box and was holding a 40-caliber semi-automatic handgun and put it to his head," Lt. Jaroscak said.

The nurse, who was still inside the room, didn't hesitate to act. "The nurse was able to jump up, push the patient away, jump out of the room and close the door. So he kind of contained him right there, which is a great job," Lt. Jaroscak told us.

From the other side of the door, the deputy started negotiating with the man, at the same time yelling at people to evacuate the ER.

Lt. Jaroscak said, "I talked to deputies who responded from our nearby division, and they said it was Columbine-like. There were people streaming out of the doors of the hospital."

Meanwhile, the deputy tried to calm the man, who occasionally made requests for things like medication. After three or four minutes, the man put down the gun and surrendered peacefully. By this time, dozens of deputies had responded. As a precaution, they locked down the emergency room.

"To make sure there were no suspicious packages or anything else that might have been left there or could be a harm to people, " Lt. Jaroscak said.

After 15 minutes, they secured the area and opened it again. The sheriff's office says it's extremely happy with how quickly everyone responded.

Police told us this man attempted to commit suicide one other time back east, but no weapon was involved. Saturday night he didn't actually threaten anyone other than himself, so if he's charged with any crimes, they will be misdemeanors. The man is currently at the University Medical Center, where he is receiving a mental health evaluation.

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