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Veterans Affairs reviews security after shooting

May. 7, 2014 - 05:05PM   |  
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CINCINNATI — Department of Veterans Affairs officials are reviewing security locally and nationally because of a shooting at a veterans hospital in southwest Ohio this week.

“We are one large VA, and it’s going to be reviewed by everyone,” Craig Larson, a spokesman for the VA’s Chicago regional public affairs office, said Wednesday.

A former employee at Dayton’s VA hospital remains in federal custody after the Monday shooting that wounded a housekeeping employee in the ankle. Neil Moore, 59, of Trotwood, is charged with assault with a dangerous weapon and use of a deadly weapon during commission of a violent crime. His attorney hasn’t returned calls.

Moore said he intended to intimidate former co-workers he believed were having inappropriate relationships with his wife and daughter, who reportedly still work at the facility, investigators said. Moore entered a break room where several people were playing cards and pointed a .38-caliber revolver at them, saying something like, “Don’t mess with my family,” according to court documents.

Authorities said a game participant hit the gun in Moore’s hand, which fired at least three times, striking a 61-year-old Dayton man. Moore then went to an elevator, pointed the revolver at another person and fled, according to court documents. He was apprehended Monday at another hospital where he was seeking medical evaluation.

Larson said the VA will look at issues surrounding the shooting to determine whether to alter or maintain its policies.

Within 10 minutes of the shooting, the roughly 50 buildings on the property were locked down, while authorities cleared each room, according to Dayton VA spokesman Ted Froats.

Authorities haven’t said how Moore got the gun into the hospital, which has its own security force but no metal detectors at entrances. Security badges aren’t required to enter the area where the shooting occurred.

The center is updating its security cameras, and metal detectors could be among possibilities discussed as officials determine whether changes are needed, Froats said.

Larson said use of metal detectors is a local decision. He couldn’t immediately say how many VA hospitals have them or how many shootings have occurred at VA hospitals.

Four years ago, an Iraq War Army veteran and a former patient shot himself to death at a monument to soldiers outside the same Dayton hospital.

In Maine, the state attorney general said deadly force by authorities was justified in a 2010 shooting outside a VA hospital in Augusta that killed an armed ex-Marine who authorities said had threatened the agency.

Froats stressed that the Dayton hospital’s primary mission is providing medical care.

“We have to remain open 24/7 and provide emergency care,” he said. “We are always going to have the possibility of something happening, but what we do is take measures to minimize those risks.”

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