COBOURG – The Special Investigations Unit has confirmed an elderly married couple are dead following a police-involved shooting at Northumberland Hills Hospital in Cobourg on Friday.
Lead investigator Jon Ansell said the couple were in the emergency ward of the hospital at about 11 p.m.
“While in a room together a gunshot was heard,” Ansell said. “The nursing staff walked in and saw that the female had a head wound and was in dire need of quick attention.”
Police were called and when officers entered the room, “shots were fired at that time and the male person was deceased at the scene.”
Both the SIU and the Ontario Provincial Police were called to the hospital.
The SIU reported that both officers fired their weapons. The man, 70, was hit and died at the scene.
OPP will be investigating the woman’s death, while the SIU is looking into the death of the man.
There was no risk to the public after the incident, hospital officials stated.
The SIU will be investigating death of the man because there was police involvement.
The SIU, which arrived at 2:30 a.m., is a civilian law enforcement agency, independent of the police, that investigates reports involving police where there has been death, serious injury or allegations of sexual assault.
The names of the deceased won’t be released as the SIU are looking for next of kin which they believe are in the area. The couple lived within an hour’s drive from the hospital, SIU spokesman Jason Gennaro said.
Five investigators and three forensic investigators from the SIU are probing the death of the man.
The hospital was expected to reopen Saturday morning, with the area of the ER where the shootings happened kept closed.
“We do understand the concerns of the hospital. It’s a very, very busy hospital for the region,” said Ansell said during the lockdown.
“We’re trying to expedite the opening of one room, which they use for critical care patients, but for the moment the investigation overrides that concern.”
The entire incident happened in one room of the emergency department where patients are treated.
No members of police or hospital staff were physically injured.
“Of course it was a busy nursing station so when shots are fired there is other kinds of trauma,” Ansell added, saying the hospital is providing care for its staff.
A firearm was recovered at the scene.
The deceased woman was 76 and the man was 70, the SIU states.
It has been confirmed that they were a married couple, Gennaro told The Examiner Saturday afternoon.
Kelly Palmateer said he was in a room in the emergency department with his girlfriend when he heard a big bang.
“I saw one of the nurses go in the room and she came out and said ‘Oh my God, call 911.’”
Palmateer said he heard a women was dead.
Moments later Palmateer and his girlfriend barricaded themselves in a room when they heard two bursts of gunfire ring out in the hallway.
Corey Smith was one of about eight people in the waiting room when he saw two police officers enter the hospital with guns still in holsters.
“About 10 seconds later we heard about eight to 10 gunshots. We all jumped to the floor. Then nurses who were in emerg all ducked down and started yelling and didn’t know what to do and ran out so we all followed and ran out,” he said. “A nurse ran across the road and we followed her.”
As the group fled the building two more police vehicles arrived and the officers ran inside.
When things calmed down the group walked back to the entrance of the hospital where they were told to go to another hospital. Northumberland Hills Hospital was in lockdown.
Bernard Loates was taking a break in his car in the parking lot outside of the emergency department when two cruisers arrived at the entrance.
“Everybody in there was running out and I said what’s going on and the nurses coming out said there is a shooter,” said Loates.
About an hour after the incident Deputy Chief Paul VandeGraaf arrived, then left with two officers. A police chaplain arrived with Chief Kai Liu.