A gunman opened fire inside a Pennsylvania psychiatric facility on Thursday, killing a woman and wounding a doctor who apparently shot back and critically wounded his attacker, authorities said.
The suspect, identified as Richard Plotts, walked into a psychiatrist's office at the Sister Marie Lenahan Wellness Center in Darby, Pennsylvania and opened fire at around 2 p.m., Delaware County District Attorney Jack Whelan said.
Plotts, who police believe was a patient at the center, entered the doctor's office accompanied by his social worker and began loudly arguing with them, Whelan said.
Workers outside the office peeked in the door, saw Plotts pointing a gun at the psychiatrist and called 911, he said.
Gunfire erupted a few minutes later, he said.
The 53-year-old social worker, whose name was not released, was fatally shot, and the doctor was grazed by a bullet on the side of his head, Whelan said.
Police at the scene of a shooting at the Mercy-Fitzgerald Hospital in Darby, Pennsylvania on July 24, 2014. A gunman opened fire inside a Pennsylvania psychiatric facility on Thursday, killing a woman and wounding a doctor before he was shot and critically wounded, authorities said. REUTERS/Charles Mostoller
Authorities believe that the doctor, who was armed, fired back and struck the gunman several times in the torso, he said.
Other employees then subdued the shooter before police arrived.
"This could have been a much different situation if the perpetrator was allowed to continue with his actions. So I give credit to the staff for intervening," Whelan said at a news conference.
The suspect, believed to be in his 30s, was taken to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, where he was listed in critical condition and undergoing surgery, Whelan said. The doctor also was hospitalized.
Whelan said the man was known to have psychiatric issues.
"It's horrendous. Any time you have an incident like this it's certainly horrendous," Whelan said.
The wellness center sits across the street from Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital in Darby, which is located about 11 km west of Philadelphia.