A gunfight between a psychiatric patient and his psychiatrist resulted in the death of a caseworker at a hospital complex in Philadelphia Thursday afternoon. Authorities are still trying to determine why the man shot the caseworker and whether his psychiatrist had concerns about him.
The psychiatrist, Dr. Lee Silverman, was grazed in the temple during the gunfight in his office by his patient, Richard Plotts, Delaware County District Attorney Jack Whelan said.
“We do believe that there were some issues between the doctor and the patient, but whether or not he actually feared him is unclear,” Whelan said.
Plotts, 49, was hospitalized in critical condition. He was expected to be arraigned on murder charges Friday at his hospital bedside in Philadelphia, said Emily Harris, a spokesperson for the district attorney’s office.
The prosecutor identified the caseworker who was fatally shot as Theresa Hunt, 53, of Philadelphia. Hunt had accompanied Plotts to an appointment with Silverman at a psychiatric crisis center adjacent to the hospital in Darby, authorities said.
“When the caseworker was shot, (Silverman) crouched down behind the desk to avoid him being shot,” Whelan said. “He was able to reach for his weapon, and realizing it was a life or death situation, was able to engage the defendant in the exchange of gunfire.”
A struggle ensued and eventually the two made their way out into the hallway, Whelan said. Another doctor and a caseworker jumped into the scuffle and secured Plotts’ weapon, he said.
The motive behind the shooting remains unclear.
Silverman was recuperating at his home Friday. His wife said he did not want to discuss the shooting and she also declined to comment according to ABC News.
Staff members recall hearing loud arguing inside Silverman’s office during the appointment. They opened the door and found the patient pointing a gun at the doctor, so they quietly closed the door and dialed 911, Whelan said. Gunshots were heard a short period later, just before 2:30 p.m.