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Motive unknown in L.B. hospital shooting

April 17, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Investigators are trying to figure out what sparked a deadly shooting at Long Beach Memorial Medical Center on Thursday.Police said an employee walked in to the hospital and killed two coworkers before taking his own life at about noon.

The gunman was identified as 50-year-old Mario Ramirez from Alhambra. The victims were identified as 46-year-old Hugo Bustamante from Cypress and 56-year-old Kelly Hales from Redondo Beach.

Ramirez and the two victims worked at an outpatient pharmacy at Long Beach Memorial. Bustamante was the manager and Hales was the executive director

When police arrived to the shooting scene, they found one victim inside the hospital, and the other was located outside near the emergency room.

Several staff members and patients heard the gunshots and ran for cover.

One woman said she saw Ramirez shoot one of the men, then turn the gun to himself.

"And then he put it to his head, and then, that's when, just boom," said witness Laura Harris.

Coworkers are having a hard time believing the kind and caring man they knew could be capable of this kind of violence.

"He was always like a funny man, kind man, you know, always joking around with people, helping people, like I said, there's nothing negative that I knew of him," said Melo Dotski, a hospital employee.

William Martin Cabriales, who knows Ramirez, described the gunman as a family man.

"Always with his kids, very down to earth, laughing," he said.

Victoria Angeles, a lab technician, was in the trauma center when one of the victims was brought in.

"Everybody's trying to save their lives, but unfortunately, one of them expired when I was there," she said.

She said she didn't initially realize the victims were employees.

On Friday, workers are back on the job, but still reeling from the ordeal.

"We have to move on. We still have patients to take care of, so that's what we have to do for now," Dotski said.

A hospital spokesman said there was no animosity that they were aware of between Ramirez and his coworkers, and his job was not in jeopardy.

Authorities have no motive for the shooting yet.

"This is a trend of active shooters that you have seen nationwide," said LBPD Chief Anthony Batts during a press conference on Thursday.

"This is becoming a national trend, probably because of the tension that's going on in our society today."

The Associated Press contributed to this story.


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