WAUWATOSA, Wis. — Police officers shot and wounded a man inside Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin after receiving a report that he was wanted on a warrant and could be armed, Milwaukee law enforcement officials said Thursday.
The 22-year-old man, wanted for being a felon in possession of a gun, was visiting the neonatal unit at the hospital in a Milwaukee suburb, Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke said. Officers went to the seventh floor about noon and approached the man, who was holding a baby, and told him he was under arrest.
The man put the baby down, “then fled down the hallway and while fleeing produced a handgun and officers were in pursuit,” Clarke said.
An officer shot the man twice after he displayed his gun, causing him to drop his weapon, and struggled with the suspect, Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn said. The man did not fire any shots, the chief said.
No hospital staff, patients or others were injured. The man’s injuries are not believed to be life-threatening, Flynn said, and he was taken to another part of the medical complex for treatment.
Flynn said a woman called police to tell them the man had a warrant for his arrest, was at the hospital and usually carried a gun.
“This is a dispatch call in which the indication was we had an armed suspect in the neonatology unit. Obviously, this was concerning,” the chief said.
Officers had printed the man’s photo from his warrant information before going to the hospital so they could identify him, police said.
The hospital issued a statement saying it had locked down the building because of a report at 11:59 a.m. of an active shooter. It issued a second statement about 2 p.m. noting operations had resumed as normal.
Sheboygan resident Chad Starkey, 29, said he was on the seventh floor and down the hall from his son’s room when he heard an announcement over the loudspeaker that there was someone on the floor with a gun and that staff and visitors should hide and barricade themselves.
“My first thought was to protect my son,” Starkey said. He, his wife and a few nurses hid in a small closet for about 30 minutes. The whole time, he said, he worried someone might hurt his son.
“This is a disgrace. This hospital has to have some kind of security. If one person can get in with a gun, then anyone can,” Starkey said.
Irma Blazek, an interpreter who works at the hospital, was in the cafe on the first floor when she heard a code for an active shooter over the loudspeaker. Blazek said she and 10 to 15 other people hid in a stairwell for over an hour.
“It was just bizarre,” Blazek said. “This is the last place you would think something like this would happen.”
Mike Sanfellippo, 39, of Random Lake, was in the hospital with his 11-year-old son who was being treated for a knee injury and on crutches. Sanfellippo said they were ready to leave for the parking lot, but were sent to an administrative building across the street after being told of the lockdown.
Sanfellippo said his first instinct was to “get the hell out of here and protect the kid.”