Bronx News
Jun 30, 2017

BRONX NEWS: Ex-medical worker kills doctor in Bronx-Lebanon Hospital shooting

Hellbent on revenge and armed with an AR-15 assault rifle, a former Bronx-Lebanon Hospital employee wearing a white lab coat opened fire Friday inside the medical center — killing one doctor and injuring six others before killing himself, authorities said.

The shooter, Henry Bello, 45, who then killed himself, had vowed to get back at his former co-workers more than two years ago shortly before he was forced to resign over accusations of sexual harassment.

“We fired him because he was kind of crazy,” Dr. Maureen Kwankam, 50, who was just steps away from Bello’s bloody rampage, told the Daily News.

“He promised to come back and kill us then.”

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The carnage began at about 2:45 p.m. when Bello — wearing a white lab coat to cloak his weapon — opened fire at his former colleagues on the hospital’s 16th floor.

With cops closing in, Bello’s shooting spree ended one floor above — after he turned the weapon on himself, police said.

Bello had also tried to start a fire at the nurse’s station on the 16th floor, but the hospital’s sprinkler system put out the small blaze. Before shooting himself, he had also tried to light himself on fire, police sources said.

Bello’s body was found sprawled across a hallway floor near that of a female victim — identified only as a doctor — whom he had killed, said NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill.

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Officials have not released the identity of the victims.

“We’ve had a real tragedy here in the Bronx this afternoon,” Mayor de Blasio said at a news conference outside the Morris Heights hospital. “It’s something we’ve seen around the country, and now we’ve experienced it here.”

The mayor said five of Bello’s victims were in serious condition. Another suffered a gunshot wound to the leg.

“As you know, the shooter killed himself, but not before having done horrible damage,” de Blasio said. “Our hearts go out to the family of the doctor who passed away.”

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As shots rang out and Bello moved through the floors, panicked doctors and nurses — some tending to patients — scrambled to take cover, barricading themselves in rooms with the help of furniture.

Kwankam said she arrived on the 17th floor moments before the shooter did.

“It was unbelievable — unbelievable,” she said.

Once she heard gunfire, Kwankam ran down a stairwell to the ninth floor, where a colleague told her to hide in a room.

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She said the gunman came to the ninth floor and tried to open the locked room, where she had hunkered down by herself.

“He was jiggling the handle. There was just a lot of commotion,” she recalled.

Bello had been a pharmacy technician at the hospital, but resigned two years ago in lieu of being terminated over accusations of sexual harassment, sources told The News.

Kwankam said Bello was hunting for a specific hospital worker, whom she did not identify.

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Bello was bitter that he did not get into a residency program, but the other worker had, Kwankam recalled.

The grudge led to a chilling pronouncement.

“He said to him, ‘Trust me, you will not graduate from residency. I will kill you before that,’” Bello said.

Even as the shooting unfolded, hospital personnel — some refusing to evacuate — bravely sprang into action to treat victims.

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“We were really nervous because we knew the shooter was still in the hospital and you’re taking care of the patients,” said Jesse Jarilla, a 53-year-old emergency room nurse who treated a female victim’s gunshot wound to her neck.

“It’s a lot of anxiety because you keep looking over your shoulder. But you have to do your job.”

Ronald Rogerson, 59, was on the seventh floor awaiting an orthopedic appointment when he heard the gunfire.

“The lights started going off, alarms started going off and stuff,” he said.

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One young woman was having an ultrasound performed when the gunfire erupted.

“I was naked on the bed and I had to jump up and put my clothes on,” said the woman, who declined to give her name. “(A doctor) came in and said, ‘There’s somebody with a weapon, so we’re gonna send some people in the room with you.’ Everybody came in the room.’”

At least 20 people barricaded themselves in a lab on the 15th floor — and blocked the door so well they needed the FDNY to help get them out once the shooting came to an end, officials said.

Police received the first 911 call about 10 minutes after the shooting began on the 16th floor.

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Responding patrol units from the 44th Precinct stationhouse quickly determined that there were multiple victims and that Bello was acting alone.

NYPD teams specially trained to handle active shooters quickly arrived — searching for the gunman and overseeing evacuations, authorities said.

Carlos Rodriguez, 19, was outside Bronx-Lebanon when heavily-armed cops stormed the building.

“I just seen a bunch of cops come in through the back, through the front with their pistols drawn, (screaming) ‘This guy’s a threat,’” Rodriguez said. “I thought something bad was about to happen. They were telling us to evacuate and go back.”

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Police sources said that they were investigating the shooting as a workplace incident and believed it was not related to terrorism.

Investigators are still trying to determine whether he targeted his victims or was shooting at random.

“How he selected his victims? Why? That’s something we’re very anxious to understand,” a police source said. “We don’t even know why he went to that floor.”

Bello, who was born in Nigeria and recently lived on the Upper East Side, was previously busted for sex abuse and pervy behavior.

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He was arrested in the East Village on Aug. 28, 2004, for grabbing a 23-year-old woman by the crotch — telling her, “You’re coming with me,” police sources said.

He pleaded guilty in September of that year to unlawful imprisonment and was sentenced to community service.

He was arrested again in October 2009 for unlawful surveillance under a victim’s clothing.

He was also busted twice in 2003 — for fare-beating and burglary, sources said.

No one answered the door at his Upper East Side apartment Friday night.

A Bronx-Lebanon Hospital spokesman did not respond to repeated requests for comment.  

With Esha Ray, Shayna Jacobs, Veronica Harris, Ginger Adams Otis

gun violence
morris heights

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Ex-medical worker kills doctor in Bronx-Lebanon Hospital shooting

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