The FBI has descended on a West Texas veterans’ hospital on Wednesday to investigate a shooting on Tuesday which left a doctor and the gunman dead, CNN reports.
It isn’t clear if the gunman turned the weapon on himself or was shot by a bystander at the El Paso Veterans Affairs Health Care System’s Clinic. So far it appears that there are no other casualties, but there are hundreds of witnesses the FBI is interested in questioning. Neither the victim nor the shooter has been identified. Some patients, however, have identified the victim as a doctor and mental health unit supervisor at the clinic who focused on brain injuries.
“I heard he was shot in the head and in the chest,” said patient Michael Rushton.
According to Maj. Gen. Stephen M. Twitty at a press conference, Fort Bliss military police and federal law enforcement arrived on the scene quickly, locked the center down and conducted a full search of the clinic. “All other VA patients and staff are safe. This is an active crime scene, and the shooting incident is under investigation,” Twitty said.
“Everything is under control and there is no immediate threat to Fort Bliss or the local community,” Twitty added. The Veterans Affairs clinic will remain closed on Wednesday, according to acting director Peter Dancy, leaving some veterans frustrated at yet another day of delayed care. The VA stated that it will contact veterans and reschedule appointments.
“Those people were here seeking medical assistance, so we understand the difficulties that this situation presents to them and we’re trying to expeditiously get through those hundreds of witnesses to find out details about this incident,” FBI special agent Douglas Lindquist said.
Investigators declined to take questions from reporters as of Tuesday night.
While officials are unsure of the motive, a federal audit last year discovered that the El Paso VA clinic has some of the longest wait times for veterans in the nation. Veterans in West Texas wait an average of two months before seeing a mental health professional. The wait time is even longer to see a physician.
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