Son: Conn. hospital shooting suspect was stressed

AP News
|
Posted: Feb 23, 2012 4:52 PM
Son: Conn. hospital shooting suspect was stressed

A hospital maintenance worker charged with shooting two supervisors had been assigned extra duties at work and was under a lot of pressure, his son said Thursday.

After the shooting, Victor Valcarcel called his son to tell him what he had done, Victor Valcarcel Jr. said Thursday after his father's arraignment in New Britain Superior Court on charges of assault and criminal attempt to commit murder. Valcarcel Sr. is being held on $1.5 million bond.

He was arrested Wednesday night about an hour after the shootings at the Hospital for Special Care, a long-term, acute-care facility in New Britain. The two supervisors, Robert Barucci and Lynn Trask, suffered gunshot wounds considered to be life-threatening and were listed in critical condition, police said.

Barucci had disciplined the 64-year-old Valcarcel earlier that day, authorities said. It wasn't immediately clear why.

Valcarcel's son, Victor Valcarcel Jr., told reporters outside court Thursday that his father had been given extra duties at work and was stressed. He said his father called him afterward and said he had shot two people.

Valcacrel Jr. said he went to his father's house and found him there pacing with a gun.

Police were called to the hospital shortly before 6 p.m. on reports that one or more people who were shot. The hospital soon was surrounded by SWAT teams with rifles, police cars and ambulances as authorities searched for the shooter. Officers from several surrounding towns responded.

Investigators say they found Valcarcel about a mile from the hospital in the front yard of his home at about 7 p.m. and arrested him without any problem. Police also say they found a handgun.

John Votto, president and chief executive officer of the hospital, released a statement Thursday calling the shootings a tragedy. He said the victims were shot in an isolated building maintenance area and patients were never in danger.

"We would like to stress that all of our patients are safe and being well cared for," Votto said. "Grief counselors are currently available to all hospital employees, patients and their families for all shifts. Additional security is being provided to reassure patients, their families and our employees that their safety is our priority."

Online state Judicial Branch records show Valcarcel has no criminal convictions and no pending criminal or civil cases. His next court appearance is for March 12. He doesn't yet have a lawyer, a court spokesman said.

Wednesday evening's violence brought back memories of the worst mass shooting in Connecticut's history, which happened about 20 miles away at a beer distributor warehouse in Manchester in August 2010. Omar Thornton, a driver for Hartford Distributors, killed eight men and injured two others before killing himself after being fired for stealing beer, authorities said.

The Hospital for Special Care, about 10 miles southwest of Hartford, bills itself as the only long-term, acute-care hospital in the country serving adults and children. The 200-bed hospital specializes in treating pulmonary disease, acquired brain injury disorders, complex pediatric problems, neuromuscular disease and spinal cord disorders. It also offers outpatient rehabilitative and therapeutic services.