Shortly before 3 pm on Friday, a gunman dressed in a white lab coat entered Bronx-Lebanon Hospital in New York City and opened fire, killing one doctor and injuring at least seven other people, five of whom are currently in critical condition. The gunman subsequently committed suicide.
Law enforcement has identified the shooter as Dr. Henry Bello, a former physician at the hospital who resigned two years ago in lieu of being fired. According to media reports, Bello was fired for harassing a fellow employee.
Bello, according to law enforcement, entered the hospital around 2:55 pm and proceeded to the 16th floor with an assault rifle concealed under his lab coat. Sources stated that Bello then proceeded to search for a specific employee before opening fire.
Police later found Bello dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound on the 17th floor. He shot himself after attempting to commit suicide by lighting himself on fire. A woman who has been identified only as a fellow doctor at the hospital was also found dead near Bello’s body.
Bello’s life is the all-too-common story in America of an unstable individual losing his or her job and then, unable to recover, violently lashing out at the boss and coworkers before committing suicide.
Dione Morales, a witness to Bello's firing, told CBS New York that the 45-year-old Nigerian-born doctor “was let go because I guess they figured he was unstable.” She also said that he had threatened the hospital.
The police told the media that Bello had been arrested in the past for sex abuse and burglary, as well as more petty criminal activity such as jumping a subway turnstile and public urination.
It appears that Bello was unable to find a stable living situation after losing his job. According to senior police officials, he had five different addresses within the last two years and was considered transient.
Workplace shootings have become a frequent occurrence within the United States. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2015 there were 417 homicides at workplaces across the country.
A report by the news website Mother Jones noted that there have already been three separate workplace shootings this year, not including the one at Bronx-Lebanon Hospital, two of which occurred in June.
Bello’s rampage comes approximately two weeks after Jimmy Lam, a 38-year-old UPS employee, opened fire on his coworkers at a San Francisco UPS facility, murdering three of them. Lam then took his own life as police showed up and began to close in on him.
The frequency of these violent incidents at schools and workplaces is a reflection of the immense social crisis in the US, marked by mass economic inequality, unemployment and lack of basic social services. As a result, individuals such as Bello are often unable to find help or develop a stable living situation as a result of personal issues combined with extreme poverty.