(CNN) — Psychiatrist Lee Silverman may have saved lives Thursday afternoon, when a patient opened fire in a suburban Philadelphia hospital, killing a caseworker.
Delaware County District Attorney Jack Whelan said the shooting happened around 2:30 p.m. at Mercy Fitzgerald Wellness Center in Darby, Pennsylvania, according to CNN affiliate KYW-TV.
A chaotic scene
According to Whelan, Richard Plotts, 49, walked in the psychiatric unit of the building with his caseworker, Theresa Hunt, 53. The two then went into Dr. Silverman’s office, where an argument ensued.
Hunt shut the door and called the police.
Moments later, shots were fired.
According to authorities, another doctor and caseworker charged into the room, where Hunt was fatally wounded. They wrestled Plotts to the floor and held him until police arrived.
Silverman’s head was grazed by a bullet, and he was treated and released after being interviewed by investigators.
Plotts remains in critical condition at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania after being shot in the arm and torso by a gun Silverman was carrying.
Authorities said they do not know why the patient opened fire.
Whelan told CNN affiliate WPVI, “This could be a much different situation if the perpetrator was allowed to continue with his actions, so I give credit for the staff for intervening.”
Two guns were recovered at the scene — one belonging to Plotts and one to Silverman. It wasn’t certain who shot Hunt but, according to Whelan, investigators believe Silverman shot Plotts in self-defense.
The district attorney plans to charge Plotts with first-degree murder.
Witnesses described a chaotic scene as numerous law enforcement officers descended on the hospital.
“The scene looked like a small army. It was very surreal, but it was comforting that if something happens this severe and we can come together,” said Rohan Hepkins, mayor of nearby Yeadon, Pennsylvania.
“The police came in droves and they locked down everything. They chased everybody on the inside, and then we (saw) a SWAT team come in,” a bystander told KYW.
Sue Moyer, an employee at the wellness center, told WPVI, “I was in the mammography suite taking care of patients, and we were just told to evacuate. And we went out the back door.”
Another employee, Anna Rose Smith, said, “You see a lot of cops, a lot of SWAT teams, a lot of very protective police officers in the area doing their job.”
A troubled history
Plotts’ court records detail an extensive criminal history, including multiple arrests for aggravated assault, firearm offenses and various drug charges.
Whelan also said he had received information about prior incidents involving Plotts and hospital personnel and doctors’ staff.
By Kisa Mlela Santiago and Shelby Lin Erdman, CNN.
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