'Hero' Doctor Shot While Stopping Gunman at Florida Hospital

Megan Brooks

March 01, 2019

A physician working in the emergency department (ED) at the West Palm Beach Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center in Riviera Beach, Florida, is being called a hero, after jumping in front of an armed gunman who opened fire in the ED on the evening of February 27.

"One injured employee (a physician) has been released from the hospital and is doing well," the VA said in a statement sent to Medscape Medical News. "We thank him for his efforts to subdue the suspect. Another employee (non-clinical) was slightly grazed by a ricocheted bullet fragment and is also doing well."

The FBI identified the suspect as Larry Bon, age 59, a homeless veteran and double-amputee. Bon was taken into custody at the scene. 

According to multiple media reports, the injured doctor is Bruce Goldfeder, MD.

According to the reports, Bon came to the hospital for treatment but became combative with staff and was taken to the ED, where he pulled a small gun from his wheelchair and started firing as he was about to undergo a mental health evaluation.

"I Ran Towards Him"

ED staff heard about three shots before they were confronted by Bon, who was screaming about cigarettes. In an attempt to distract Bon, Goldfeder told him that there were cigarettes behind him before rushing to Bon to try to disarm him.

During the struggle, Bon fired about three more shots, one of which grazed Goldfeder's left ear before entering his neck and exiting near the base of his skull. Goldfeder gained control of the gun and with the help of others in the ED pinned Bon against a wall with a chair as they waited for police to arrive.

Justin Fleck, assistant special agent in charge at the FBI's Miami field office, said the wounded doctor was "very brave," adding, "he did a heroic thing today. Probably saved a lot of lives," according to ABC News .

"I saw the gun, and you know, I saw that it was being pointed and waved in different directions and I heard gunshots, so you know I ran towards him," Goldfeder said after the shooting, according to the South Florida Sun Sentinel. "He was waving the gun, and so I kind of did like a football tackle. I tackled him and the gun at the same time and restrained the gun, and then I got shot when it hit the floor."

But Goldfeder doesn't want the "hero" label.

"I think the heroes are the veterans and I think we need to allocate more for their well-being," he said, according to the Sentinel. Goldfeder also said that there is a critical shortage of psychiatrists at the West Palm Beach VA Medical Center to treat veterans.

As for his injuries, he said he'll be fine. "I'm lucky, I'm blessed. It's a good day for me. I'm fine. If it were another inch lower maybe...it'd be a different day," Goldfeder said.

"The West Palm Beach VA medical center continuously conducts safety training and exercises to help ensure appropriate responses to active threat situations, and that training was put to great use yesterday. Security measures at the West Palm Beach VAMC are consistent with health care industry standards," the VA said in the statement.

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