It Happened: A Good Guy With a Gun Stopped a Bad Guy With a Gun

“Gun-toting doctor” shot assailant in Darby hospital attack.

A hospital worker embraces a woman near the scene of a shooting at the Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital in Darby, Pa. on Thursday, July 24, 2014. A prosecutor said a gunman opened fire inside the psychiatric unit leaving one hospital employee dead and a second injured before being critically wounded himself. (AP Photo)

A hospital worker embraces a woman near the scene of a shooting at the Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital in Darby, Pa. on Thursday, July 24, 2014. A prosecutor said a gunman opened fire inside the psychiatric unit leaving one hospital employee dead and a second injured before being critically wounded himself. (AP Photo)

Everytime a gun massacre occurs, gun enthusiasts have suggested that what the world needs is … more guns. “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” they say. The problem? Good guys with guns so rarely seem to make the scene — and bad guys with guns end up doing quite a bit of damage.

Until Thursday at least. A “gun-toting doctor” at Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital in Darby shot and injured his assailant, effectively ending the attack — and there’s a good chance as a result this story is going to get some front-and-center attention in the national gun debate. 

The New York Daily News reports:

A suspected gunman burst into a Pennsylvania hospital’s psychiatric ward, killing a female caseworker and wounding a psychiatrist Thursday before the doctor returned fire and critically injured Richard Plotts, authorities said.

Plotts opened fire after entering Dr. Lee Silverman’s office with the caseworker, District Attorney Jack Whelan said. Witnesses reported hearing yelling before the gunshots.

Silverman told police the patient fatally shot the caseworker before he pulled out his own gun and exchanged fire with the patient. Whelan said the psychiatrist, “from all accounts, would have acted in self-defense.”

The caseworker was Theresa Hunt, 53.

The hospital, not incidentally, has a policy banning weapons from its campus — unless they’re carried by law enforcement officers.

NBC 10 reports:

His ex-wife, who asked to remain anonymous, told NBC10 her ex-husband was abusive, made threats on her life and acted violently toward her family.

“He was violent, physically and mentally,” Plotts’s ex said. “He has threatened to kill me. He’s been violent to my family — parents, siblings — and he’s just never been a very good person.”

The couple’s divorce was finalized in 1999, while Plotts served six years in prison for a Delaware bank robbery four years earlier.

Fox 29 adds:

Bizarre, erratic and frightening; that’s how former neighbors described accused Wellness Center shooter Richard Plotts.

“He knocked on my door one day to ask for my cell phone because he stabbed himself in the leg, so that sort of like turned on the light to me,” Bert Garcia said.

Neighbors said he lived at this Upper Darby apartment within the last year.

Cathy Nickel said Plotts screamed what now comes off as an eerie message when he moved out.

“The last thing he said getting in the van, he hollered, ‘you haven’t heard the end of me yet'” Nickel said.

AP reports on the possible motive for the attack:

The motive for the shooting remained unclear late Thursday. Whelan said Plotts, of Upper Darby, might have had issues with the doctor over his treatment plan. It is not known, however, if that is why Silverman was armed, apparently against hospital policy.

Whelan said that Plotts, 49, underwent surgery Thursday night at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. Silverman was treated and released.

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  • Susan

    Let’s give full support to the hero physician who saved lives by shooting the madman.

  • Bernie Horowitz

    He will get fired for having the gun on the hospital campus. Which was against company rules. They will always find a way to punish the guy who saved the day, because if they don’t it invites everyone else to break the rules.

    • Susan

      The rules need to be changed and hopefully this will be a wake up call.

      • Boots Electric

        So, this is the exception by which we should change the rules. Because if a rule doesn’t cover every possible scenario, we throw it out. Because not having a gun on a hospital campus is the right rule only 99.9% of the time.

        • Boots Electric

          Because we legislate for the 1% in the United States. Nope, no need to explain further. I get it.

          • paul

            Ummm, the only thing that should change is tighter weapons screening at the door.

          • momatad


          • J.Oz

            Would that have stopped the madman, or would he have shot his way past the screeners? Simple people live in a simple world…

          • J.Oz

            Do you really mean this? Who is the 1% here? Silverman and the dead woman whom the hospital’s policy would NOT protect? The mad man who the hospital’s policy IGNORES, at best, protects at worst? Do you NOT get that Silverman and likely several others would be dead also. Isn’t one (1) DEAD too many?

        • J.Oz

          Yes…this is an OBVIOUS exception that should drive change to the rules/policy at the hospital. The scenario that would have been prevented by the current policy is the scenario that actually played out. Silverman would be dead too. And, most likely, many other innocent people at the hospital. Should EVERYONE and ANYONE working at the hospital be permitted to carry a gun? Of course not, BUT the security team and psychiatric team? YES. Obviously, BANNING guns in a potentially dangerous workplace is NOT the answer. It’s a political and philosophical policy when it needs to be a pragmatic, if unfortunate, policy.

        • jmedei1

          Why is that the right rule? Is that based on your disapproval and lack of knowledge in regards to fire arms? Can you give me a case where the individual with the legally permitted fire arm shot his fellow students? Or can you only reference illegally owned and possessed fire arms being used for acts of violence offering no evidence that it is the correct rule 99.9% of the time. I would argue that if this case shows anything, its that if the rules WERE changed, we would see less active shooter scenarios. Why do you think that having legally permitted fire arms will increase violence and somehow make the normal law abiding citizen a murderous predator? If I gave you a permit to carry a gun would YOU turn into a murderous predator?

    • Mark Cofta

      Bernie, the day was not saved for Theresa Hunt. If neither man owned a gun, she would be alive. They (as in gun nuts like you) will always find a way to forget what really happened.

      • Tara Grammes Lyman

        Plotts was unstable and had a record and obviously should not have owned a gun. The issue is how was he able to obtain a gun. If the doctor hadn’t decided for his own safety, to bring his gun to work that day, many more may be dead. Making it harder for law abiding citizens to protect themselves in these type of situations is not going to stop the criminals from killing innocent people.

        • FAT FRANK

          he may have known from previous meetings with this guy that he was dangerous and therefore better carry protection with him—-the guards at that facility do not carry guns

      • darrenluc93

        Yes you are right, lets make guns illegal because criminals follow laws…

      • (610)

        Yeah, because you can’t kill someone with a knife. Jackass.

      • J.Oz

        Simple people live in a simple world…

    • Elmar17

      Too much local support for him and staff support. You want to make sure most of that department looks for work somewhere else – fire the guy that saved their lives.

      He will get a slap on the wrist letter and maybe a punishment of a bonus or a few extra days off schedule with pay.

  • Rich-D

    Major Kudos go out to the doctor Dr. Lee Silverman! The good doctor may be fired, but he’ll leave the hospital alive and in one piece!

    • Mark Cofta

      Yay, guns are great! Unless you’re Theresa Hunt, of course, killed by a guy with a gun. There is nothing to cheer here: the proliferation of guns in our country guarantees that innocents will die.

      • Duane Coyle

        Have you considered seeking professional help?

    • Mark Cofta

      And he’ll take his gun to other places where it’s not allowed and look for other people to shoot, yay! And he won’t actually help “the madman” get better, because he’s too busy stroking his gun, hurrah! Shooting patients is not good healthcare.

      • lolmrsofficer

        you’re a jackass. that doctor is a hero and if it weren’t for him several others would be dead right now

    • momatad

      The real question is why a known psychiatric facility like Mercy Fitz doesn’t have a system in place that screens any and all from entering the facility carrying weaponry. I am sure Plotts is not the only one on the patient roster who has a violent history, would a metal detector have been out of place? I think not. Is it terrifying to think a psychotic is wielding a weapon? Yes. But I would be equally as distressed at the thought of a doctor treating such a patient doing the same knowing that at any time it could be taken from him/her and used against them as well. This time it wasn’t as the patient CAME armed. Also, if there were proper enforcement of the laws and proper checks and balances in place maybe, just maybe, the patient wouldn’t have had a gun to begin with!

      • leeeeeroyjenkins

        Because hospitals are supposed to be “safe havens” that are accessible to everyone and the system itself is designed to be approachable. There’s an unfortunate catch 22 surrounding being secure but still open to patients.

      • FAT FRANK

        it was an office….not a psych hospital

  • I’m 1st

    my gun people.. lol. This seldom happens and yes it is a great thing that he had a gun, now don’t think for one moment that we don’t need stricter gun control, cause we do, and as for the guy getting fired, yea its a hospital policy, he might not even get fired, but a hero none the less. Still, you shouldn’t be allowed to tote your guns in public places… that still looks nuts. Peace

    • Ghost

      Oh Yeah those strict gun laws are working so well in Chicago. Not to mention the numerous gun laws that Plotts violated just having a gun in the first place. Heck we cant stop thousands of people streaming across the border and you seem to think that by enacting more laws it will keep guns out of the hands of the bad guys.

      • Mark Cofta

        So, the only thing that will stop a bad guy who breaks the rules and buys a gun is a good guy who breaks the rules and brings a gun to work? This country is insane.

        • JBR

          Then leave.

          • Mark Cofta

            No, I’ll stay and try to make it better.

        • Merican Icon

          Why is it insane for a doctor, who works with the mentally ill, to legally carry a gun? It would be insane not to.

          • Mark Cofta

            The hospital rules forbid guns, so it wasn’t legal. Doctors make an oath to heal and help people, and being prepared to shoot them is contrary to that professional purpose.

            Many commenters here are ignorant and hateful about people who are mentally ill. The vast majority are not dangerous; they’re people who are actively seeking help for their problems, which is more responsible than ignoring them or self-medicating with booze or drugs.

            The idea that people seeking help in a medical facility are insane killers and should be shot, or allowed to shoot each other, is itself evidence of a profound ignorance and fear of mental illness.

        • I’m 1st

          making stuff up Mark quit.

          • Mark Cofta

            You’re last!

      • momatad

        I know, give them all weapons at the door of the next psych hospital, clear the staff and let them have at each other……..just think of the profits saved in insurance pay out for ‘questionable’ care under the ACA…..(sarcasm people). The issue besides how Plotts got the gun (my guess is a straw purchaser) is how he got it in the building to begin with. It IS a psychiatric hospital and he IS a violently-predisposed patient.

      • I’m 1st

        I do, we haven’t done it yet so no one knows, Chi-town has always been a crime filled city since the 20’s, shoot you gotta have gun laws there. But no more gun-toting gun nuts in public places, hell no that s#*t will stop 4 real quick too.

        • Ghost

          We dont have to try it, we cant keep illegals from coming into the country by the thousands, cant keep drug users from getting drugs, yet you seem to think guns will be different SMH!!

    • Merican Icon

      My CCP says differently, as well as the constitution. When police officers no longer need to carry in public places, then we can talk about law abiding citizens not carrying in public places…

      • I’m 1st

        Don’t even compare your groups to Police , that’s so stupid. They are trained, yes they have issue’s now and need to fix the way they do things but to put yourself in that group= crazy. No , you should not and pretty soon will not be able to play with your guns in public, and if you try to be stupid with it, you will end up in jail or shot. and it will be your own faults

  • Morlando26

    I didn’t see it in this article, but did Plotts obtain the gun legally? If so then that’s the problem, not whether or not law abiding citizens should be able to carry guns.

    • Rachel Fields

      It was not obtained legally, he is a felon and has at least half a dozen arrests for illegal gun possession. But of course, criminals don’t cookie laws!

  • Merican Icon

    A good guy with a gun stopping a bad guy with a gun happens more often than the ‘anti-freedom’ crowd wants you to think. The corporate run media doesn’t want the average mind to get the idea that guns can be used to do good. For those saying a DOCTOR shouldn’t be allowed to carry, I ask you this: should much less intelligent/educated police officers be allowed to carry?