A married couple is dead after two rounds of gunfire rang out in the emergency room of a southern Ontario hospital, the province’s police watchdog said Saturday.
Jason Gennaro of Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit said details of the deadly incident at the Northumberland Hills Hospital in Cobourg, Ont., are still emerging as both it and the Ontario Provincial Police look into the case.
But even the details emerging at the early stage of the investigation painted a chaotic picture.
Gennaro said a 70-year-old man and 76-year-old woman, who were married to each other and lived within an hour of Cobourg, were both admitted to the hospital’s emergency room late Friday night with unknown ailments.
Around 11:00 p.m., Gennaro said police were called to the scene after receiving reports that shots had been fired in the triage room where both members of the couple were lying side by side on gurneys.
Police rushed to the scene and found the woman suffering from a head wound. Gennaro said, however, that the source of her injury is still under investigation.
“We’re not confirming one way or the other whether or not this man had a firearm or whether he discharged a firearm,” Gennaro said in a telephone interview.
Shortly after arriving on the scene, the SIU said two police officers had an interaction with the man resulting in both firing their weapons.
Their shots hit the man, who was declared dead at the scene.
Ontario Provincial Police declined to offer comment on the situation. Gennaro said the provincial force is handling inquiries into the woman’s death, while the SIU itself probes the death of the man. The watchdog is an arms-length agency that investigates incidents in which someone is killed, injured or accused of sexual assault.
The shootings temporarily closed the emergency department of the hospital while police combed the scene for evidence. Gennaro said the investigation includes searching for shell casings to determine how many shots were fired.
Emergency patients were directed to neighbouring hospitals for several hours before the facility resumed its regular operations at around 9:30 on Saturday morning.
“I want to thank our staff, physicians, security and our local police services for their fast and professional response,” hospital President Linda Davis said in a statement. “NHH’s Employee Assistance Provider has been on site through the night providing support. We recognize incidents such as this have a significant emotional impact on our team and we will continue to provide support as long as necessary.”
Michelle McQuigge and Nicole Thompson, The Canadian Press