HARTFORD, Conn. - Investigators are looking into an elderly heart patient's possible "psychiatric issues" after he allegedly tucked a revolver into the folds of his hospital gown and shot a nursing supervisor who tried to wrest the gun away.
The 85-year-old patient, Stanley Lupienski, shot himself once in the leg during the scuffle in Danbury Hospital's cardiac unit Tuesday, police said. He remained under guard Wednesday in the hospital.
Witnesses told police that nursing supervisor Andy Hull, a 35-year-old former Marine, jumped in to disarm Lupienski when he pulled the gun out and pointed it at another staff member. Police say Hull was shot three times.
He was being treated Wednesday in the hospital's intensive care unit for injuries described as serious but not life-threatening.
Hull's mother-in-law, Donna LaFrance of Wolcott, said that he was struck in the neck and chest and that another bullet grazed his skull and caused brain swelling. She said Hull also might have been struck by a fourth bullet, which doctors were attempting to locate.
"He's aware of where he is and what happened," LaFrance said. "He's very strong-minded and a smart man, very alert about what's around him from being a Marine. ... We're just very grateful that he's alive."
It was not immediately known whether Hull and Lupienski knew each other. A motive for the shooting has not been established, but Danbury police Capt. Thomas Wendel said that he "may have had some psychiatric issues," and that they are looking into whether that was a factor.
Lupienski, of Brookfield, is charged with first-degree assault, first-degree reckless endangerment, unlawful discharge of a weapon and carrying a pistol without a permit, police said. He will be arraigned in Danbury Superior Court when he is able to leave the hospital or a judge will arraign him in his hospital room, Wendel said.
The hospital's Web site says Hull, of Bethel, worked his way up from a patient care technician to his current supervisory spot. A brief profile on the site says that what he "loves most about his job is the combination of clinical skills and compassion it requires."
Mary Consoli, president of the Danbury Nurses Union Unit 47, said the union wants to work with the hospital to update and strengthen security procedures.
"We're appalled and saddened by the tragedy at Danbury Hospital, where our members work every day to care for patients ... It was a very traumatic experience for everyone," Consoli said Wednesday.
Danbury Hospital officials called the shooting isolated.
Bonnie Michelman, director of police, security and outside services for Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, said there is no specific formula that fits all hospitals nationwide on how to predict and prevent such incidents.
Metal detectors at entrances slow down visitors and staff, but some hospitals put high-risk people in areas with cameras or have handheld metal detectors, said Michelman, board chairwoman and past president of the Illinois-based International Association For Healthcare Security and Safety.
"Hospitals are microcosms of cities, and what hospitals deal with are people not always in a rational state, maybe having psychiatric issues or substance issues or suicidal issues," Michelman said. "People are there at very high-stress times."
Associated Press reporter Pat Eaton-Robb in Hartford contributed to this report.