Gunfire at Minnesota clinic leaves several wounded; suspect had 'multiple contacts' with police
Up to five people are said to be critically wounded, and a male suspect has been detained, according to emergency dispatch audio.
MINNEAPOLIS — A 67-year-old man unhappy with health care he received shot and seriously wounded five people at a Buffalo, Minn., clinic Tuesday, Feb. 9, in what authorities described as a "horrible scene" where potential explosives were also discovered.
Gary Paul Ulrich, 67, of Buffalo is jailed after the 10:55 a.m. shooting at Allina Health Clinic in Buffalo on Crossroads Campus Drive. Police said they've had "multiple contacts" with Ulrich dating back to 2003. He had a history of being unhappy with health care he had received, said Buffalo police Chief Pat Budke.
"The history we have with this individual makes it most likely that this incident was targeted at that facility or someone in that facility, Budke said. "Because of that previous contact with him, this was an isolated incident or only directed at people within (the clinic.)"
Police found suspicious devices both in the clinic and the nearby Super 8 Motel where Ulrich was staying. It's unclear whether they detonated.
A female with three gunshot wounds was taken by air ambulance to North Memorial Health Hospital in Robbinsdale, Minn., where two others also were transported, emergency medical personnel were heard saying on dispatch audio. Two others were taken to Allina-operated Buffalo Hospital, the audio continued.
The initial Sheriff's Office dispatch reports indicated that multiple people called 911 about an "older white male" in the clinic with a handgun.
One dispatcher said his partner was on the phone with the suspect doing the shooting. "He is saying that there are bombs inside," the dispatcher is heard saying. "He is telling law enforcement to back off."
The man let a woman out of the clinic, but authorities were "not sure about other hostages," the audio continued.
The suspect was in the front vestibule while "saying that he does want to surrender now. ... The male is going to stay in place, he is laying on his stomach … The male is saying the gun is inside the building somewhere."
The State Patrol said its pilots are flying six boxes of blood from the Red Cross to the Buffalo Hospital for the victims.
As word of a possible explosion spread, one officer on the scene said, "We see evidence of that; west glass shattered all across."
The audio illustrated a frantic scene as victims streamed outside the hospital as officers rushed to evacuate them.
"I've got four or five with gunshots back here," an officer said, adding that at least three of the victims were women, with one shot in the abdomen and another in the spinal cord, according to the audio. "Send as many ambulances as you can."
State Bureau of Criminal Apprehension special agents and crime scene personnel are en route to assist in the investigation of the "shooting incident involving multiple victims," said agency spokeswoman Jill Oliveira.
The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms also were added to the growing roster of assisting agencies.
A spokesman for the full Allina Health system was heading to the scene early Tuesday afternoon to assess the situation and possibly disclose further details.
There also was a "high suspicion" of a bomb threat directed at a Super 8 hotel about a mile south of the clinic, the dispatch audio disclosed, but its relationship to the shooting was not immediately clear.
Despite someone being in custody coming soon after the shooting, word had yet to spread through the city. Staff at a nearby coffee shop closed its doors out of concerns for safety and were only letting customers in one by one.
A sheriff's deputy went door-to-door at a strip mall within view of the clinic, asking whether anyone saw anything suspicious. Some of the shops are closed, but a few, such as Bugambilias restaurant, remained open. A waiter there said he and other workers haven't been told anything.
State Rep. Marion O'Neill, R-Maple Lake, whose district includes Buffalo, said in a statement that "my friends, my children and grandchildren live and work in Buffalo, and while we do not yet know who the injured are, we are all connected. ... I want to thank the Buffalo police officers, Wright County sheriff's deputies and first responders who ran toward danger instead of away from it, and the medical personnel who made sure that those injured had the best care possible."
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said his city has sent first responders to assist authorities in the community on the far west edge of the Twin Cities metro area.
A large truck and trailer from Minneapolis Police Department bomb squad was backed up to the clinic.
"There is an unspeakable depravity in doing harm to those who work to heal us," Frey said, "those who have stepped up and risked their own health for ours."
Star Tribune staff writers Matt McKinney, Libor Jany and Abby Simons contributed to this report.
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