Monday, April 15, 2019
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- It was a normal day in the emergency wing at Augusta University Medical Center -- or at least as normal as things can get in that wing until about 5:30 p.m.
"A visitor who was described as wearing a mask was seen approaching the medical department," Chief Medical Officer Phillip Coule said.
Coule said that masked man was also holding what appeared to be a weapon. Whether it was real is still under investigation.
"He was apprehended before entering the building and taken into custody by AU police," Coule said.
But things didn't stop there.
"A fire alarm was pulled by a bystander but no actual fire was detected or seems to have occurred," Coule said.
The hospital quickly went from code red to code black.
"We put both our active shooter and our fire alarm actions into play," Coule said.
At the same time, someone fearing for their life threw a fire extinguisher through a window trying to escape from what they thought was a gunman.
"Somebody threw something at the glass, and they say he snapped, you know," hospital visitor Robert Loner said.
Loner was inside when things turned chaotic.
"I know the guy," Loner said. "He's just down on his luck, you know?"
Loner's wife was receiving care and he said he asked the suspect to pick them up not knowing what was in store.
"He's homeless, ain't got no job, bad relationship too," Loner said.
AU police and the Richmond County Sheriff's Office are still looking into why this man "snapped," as Loner puts it.
Meanwhile, District Attorney Natalie Paine did visit AU on Monday night after the incident, and the hospital says they are involved.
No word on if the man could face charges.