By Peter Hermann and Justin Fenton, The Baltimore Sun
7:54 PM EDT, September 22, 2011
A man who shot himself in the head outside the emergency room in North Baltimore's Union Memorial Hospital on Thursday left a note indicating he chose that locale because he wanted to donate his organs to medicine, according to law enforcement source.
Baltimore police reported that the 29-year-old man was severely injured and later transferred to Johns Hopkins Hospital, where he was in critical condition Thursday night. Officials declined to discuss other details about the note or the motivation, other than to say that homicide detectives are investigating the incident.
"I can confirm that there is a note," said city police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi. "I cannot confirm what the note says."
Police said the weapon was a large caliber handgun. Authorities declined to release the man's name.
Debra Schindler, a hospital spokeswoman, declined to comment on the shooting or the note but said it doesn't appear the victim had ever been a patient there. She said hospital officials do not know why the man chose Union Memorial, which is not a transplant center.
The shooting occurred about 11:15 a.m. at the hospital, located south of the Guilford community, on East University Parkway. The emergency room entrance is on the ground floor, off North Calvert Street.
Police said patients and others had seen the man walking around and looking distraught.
Agent Donny Moses, a city police spokesman, said the man went into an alcove outside the emergency room doors and shot himself on a ramp used for wheelchairs and stretchers. "People heard a gunshot," Moses said, adding it was in an area accessible to the general public but couldn't be seen from the waiting room.
The man was found lying on the ground with the gun next to him. "Every indication indicates the man shot himself," Moses said. Hospital staff immediately took the man into the emergency room and later transferred him to Hopkins.
Schindler said care of other patients was not disrupted, though police blocked off North Calvert Street, between East 33rd Street and University Parkway, for a time after the shooting. Arriving ambulances were diverted to another entrance.
About an hour after the incident, George Hummel was serving hot dogs and chips to hospital workers at a stand on the corner.
He said he arrived around noon to relieve a woman who had been working that morning. It was her first day working at the stand, and the shooting shook her up, according to Hummel.
"First day, so of course she's gonna be scared," he said.
Baltimore Sun reporter Alison Knezevich contributed to this article.
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