September 20, 2010

Gunman shoots physician at JHH, then mother, self

The first Johns Hopkins Emergency Alert went out around 11:20 a.m. on Thursday, Sept. 16: A physician had been shot on the eighth floor of The Johns Hopkins Hospital’s Nelson Building, and the gunman had not been apprehended. With quick dispatch, Johns Hopkins security and Baltimore City Police were on the scene, some buildings had been evacuated and others locked down, surrounding streets had been secured, and electronic messages had apprised faculty, staff and students of the situation and updated them on the status of classes, hospital operations and transportation relating to the East Baltimore campus.

Over the next several hours, details of the incident became known. The faculty physician, whose name was not released because of privacy and confidentiality policies, had been rushed into surgery for an abdomen wound; the gunman had been isolated in a patient room; and later, at 1:30 p.m., police reported that the situation had ended: A SWAT team had determined that the gunman had fatally shot his mother, who was a patient, and himself.

In a letter sent to students, faculty and staff in the afternoon, President Ronald J. Daniels thanked all university employees in East Baltimore and colleagues at the hospital for their response to the event.

“Those who were directly involved did what they needed to do, calmly and ably,” he said. “Those who were not directly involved kept on doing what they are there to do: The hospital remained in operation. Patients were taken care of. Faculty taught, students learned, staff did their critical work in support of the Johns Hopkins mission. I am grateful to you all,” he said.

“I especially want to thank Baltimore’s police, led by Commissioner Frederick Bealefeld, for a rapid and very professional response that unquestionably prevented the situation from becoming even worse,” he continued. “Their actions protected patients, visitors and employees in the hospital, and we are most appreciative.”

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake released a statement that afternoon saying, “I was deeply troubled to learn of the incident at Johns Hopkins earlier today. Johns Hopkins is a proud Baltimore institution, the city’s largest private employer and arguably one of the most important medical institutions on the planet. A unified incident command was established very quickly, and all the appropriate law enforcement, city agencies and Johns Hopkins officials worked together to respond to the incident.

“The importance of the Johns Hopkins community to the City of Baltimore cannot be overstated,” she said. “The safety and security of Johns Hopkins employees and residents in the surrounding neighborhoods was paramount during the city’s response efforts. I would like to personally thank the men and women of the Baltimore Police Department as well as other city agencies for the swift response to the incident.”

The physician who was shot underwent surgery for his wound and is expected to have a full recovery.

The gunman was identified by police as Paul Warren Pardus, 50, and his mother as 84-year-old Jean Davis, of Arlington, Va., who had recently undergone surgery related to her cancer treatment. The gunman had been listening to the physician when he “became emotionally distraught and reacted … and was overwhelmed by the news of his mother’s condition,” according to Bealefeld.

In the wake of the shootings, faculty, staff and students were reminded to subscribe to the university’s system for getting vital information out in the event of a life-threatening emergency.

If an active shooter event, a fire or a similar imminent situation should occur, a Johns Hopkins Emergency Alert text message would be sent to subscribers to the service for the affected campus. Along with relevant details to keep recipients safe, it would offer advice on where to get updated information as the situation developed.

Those who are not yet subscribed, or who don’t remember if they are, can go to and sign in using their JHED ID and password, then click on the “myProfile” icon in the upper left-hand side of the page and the “Emergency Alerts” link on the right to select the campus or campuses about which they’d like to be notified.