Tenn. hospital gunman kills woman, then self

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. —A gunman took a taxi to a hospital Monday and then opened fire, killing a woman and injuring two others before committing suicide, police said.

All the victims were female and current or former employees of Parkwest Medical Center, Knoxville Police Chief Sterling Owen IV said. The attack happened about 4:30 p.m. outside the hospital's discharge area.

Police are still trying to determine a motive, but it did not appear that any of the victims were related to the gunman or that there was any connection between them, spokesman Darrell DeBusk said. Police also didn't think the gunman was ever employed at the hospital.

The names of the victims and gunman weren't released by police because the families haven't yet been notified.

Photographs showed a body surrounded by police at the entrance of the discharge area, where vehicles can pickup patients. Yellow crime tape was stretched around the area and police took photographs inside of a van taxi.

Two of the victims were taken to the trauma center at the University of Tennessee Medical Center. A hospital spokesman declined to give their conditions, citing federal privacy laws.

Linda Cody, whose father was a patient at the hospital, said she had gone to smoke a cigarette when she saw a body face down, surrounded by blood, outside the discharge area of the hospital.

She said she didn't know if the man, who wasn't moving, was dead or alive, but she had learned the victims had been shot in the same area where she normally smoked.

"It was scary," she said. "It kind of gives you the willies thinking that could have been me five seconds ago."

Cody overheard a woman tell police that a gun was underneath the man.

Police put the hospital on lockdown as SWAT team members searched each floor to make sure no one else involved with the attack had made it inside.

"The hospital is safe and is being reopened with limitations," Owen said.

Charles Billingsley was taking his sister to a nearby doctor's office and heard the shooting, though he wasn't close enough to see the attack.

"I heard five pistol shots, back to back, and then another and then another," Billingsley said. "I just saw people running from the hospital."

The owner of the cab company Red Star Taxi said one of his dispatchers told him that one of his cab drivers drove the gunman to the hospital. Yaqub Darboe said his driver was questioned by police.

"All I know was the guy just called, asked for a ride to the hospital and then he took him over there, and then this incident happened," Darboe said.