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Long Beach hospital shooting leaves three dead [UPDATED]

April 16, 2009 |  1:18 pm

Police guard an entry to the Long Beach Memorial Medical Center walk-in emergency entry after an employee shot two people before killing hemself.

Updated, 6:45 p.m.: A third person in today’s shooting has died, police said.

The two victims were identified as Kelly Hales, 56, of Redondo Beach and Hugo Bustamante, 46, of Cypress, said Lisa Massacani, spokeswoman for the Long Beach Police Department. The gunman, who took his life, was identified as Mario Ramirez, 50, of Alhambra, she said.

The shots were fired just before noon in a lobby at Long Beach Memorial Medical Center.

Long Beach police closed off the large hospital complex on Atlantic Avenue.

A source said the gunman shot a pharmacy manager several times in the head and then ran through the hospital wielding at least two guns, searching for a second man. The gunman eventually caught up with that man and shot him multiple times, the source said. The source said the gunman then told onlookers to go away, and fatally shot himself.

Justin Hawkins, 18, said he had been in the main lobby. “I thought I heard a shot, a shot like a loud bang," Hawkins said.  "I heard people screaming and yelling. Then a nurse came in and told everyone to hurry up and leave as soon as possible. At first, no one believed her and they remained sitting down where they were.” He said doctors herded him and others into some backrooms after making sure the coast was clear. “People were frantic. Really scared.”

The incident occurred about 11:40 a.m. in the lobby of the hospital in the 2800 block of Atlantic Avenue, said Sgt. Dina Zipalski of the Long Beach Police Department.

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Updated at 1:49 p.m.: Charity Perez, 31, said her husband, who works at the hospital as a valet, knew the gunman, who also worked at the hospital.  “He was a great and wonderful guy,” she said. ”He was a nice guy and was always willing to help you.”


She said the gunman, whom she refused to identify, was married and had children. “He heard that there were going to be layoffs in June,” Perez said of the gunman, but said she did not know whether that was the motive for the shootings.


 

Perez said her husband told her that the gunman shot two people, including his supervisor twice in the face, and eventually shot himself. She said the shootings took place in the rear of the hospital’s pharmacy. The gunman was scheduled to work a noon shift, she said.


Perez said she was dropping her kids off about 12:30 p.m. at the hospital to be with their dad when she noticed all the police cars in the parking lot.  

-- Andrew Blankstein, Louis Sahagun, Raja Abdulrahim and James Wagner

Photo: Police guard an entry to Long Beach Memorial Medical Center after the shootings. Credit: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times

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