A Lesson in Taking Action: Sanford Hospital Scare

ABERDEEN, S.D- It was a scary morning for staff at the Sanford Hospital in Aberdeen who thought they heard gunshots. It ended up being a false alarm, but as KDLT’s Miranda Paige reports the decisions staff made were important.

When staff at Sanford Hospital heard banging noises believed to be gunshots coming from a patient’s room around nine this morning, police say staff did what they are trained to do.

“It’s the uncertainty, the vagueness of sounds, the alarm, those are the times. those are the times that are most critical. those are the times to make a decision and act on that plan,” said Aberdeen Police Chief Dave McNeil.

Staff and patients were evacuated to a nearby mall and school. Those who couldn’t leave were placed behind locked doors. The hospital and Mike Miller Elementary School, which is across the street were put on lockdown.

“They took the appropriate and logical measures and step to protect  the hospital and themselves and the rest of the patients. So they did a very good job in their response to what they believe the situation was at the time,” said Chief McNeil.

There was no gun found at the scene. Police believe the loud sound was actually from a man in one of the rooms repeatedly banging on something. Before the incident that same man was reportedly belligerent toward staff.

“This person presented some aggressive behavior that presented a threatening posture to the staff. They responded to that and there were you know alarming things to cause them to believe a shooter situation was occurring,” said Chief McNeil.

The 54-year-old Webster man is now in custody with pending charges. While everyone is relieved the situation wasn’t worse, they now know they are prepared to handle it.

“I’m proud of our employees, our employees are well trained in these different what if scenarios, we don’t ever hope we have to deal with them, but when we do our staff acted appropriately,” said Ashley Erickson, Executive Director of Sanford Aberdeen.

Police hope this is a lesson to others that it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

The lockdown was lifted about an hour-and-a-half after the incident was reported. One officer sustained minor injuries while taking the suspect into custody, but no other injuries were reported.


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