Terminally Ill Man Enters Medical Practice, Takes Hostages, Murders Beloved Doctor Before Committing Suicide

AUSTIN, TEXAS – A man walked into the offices of Children’s Medical Group Tuesday with a gun and took hostages inside the building. When the incident was over, he and a woman were dead. According to the Austin Police Department, some of the hostages were able to escape and others were released. Freed hostages told police that the man was armed with a pistol and what appeared to be a shotgun, and that he also had two duffel bags.

Dr. Katherine Dodson, a pediatrician at CMG, was the only remaining hostage being held by the man who was later identified as Dr. Bharat Narumanchi, 43. Narumanchi, also a pediatrician, was recently diagnosed with terminal cancer. He had been in the facility a week before, applying for a volunteer position.

Hostage negotiators who responded to the incident were unsuccessful in their attempts to make contact with Narumanchi. After repeated attempts, SWAT officers entered the building, only to find Dodson and Narumanchi dead from apparent gunshot wounds.

“It appeared that Dr. Narumanchi shot himself after shooting Dr. Dodson,” according to the police department’s news release. Other than his recent visit, police were unable to find a connection between Dodson and Narumanchi. The incident is still under investigation, and the Travis County Medical Examiner will be conducting an autopsy to determine the official cause and manner of death.

According to the practice’s website, Dr. Dodson, 43, joined CMG as a pediatrician in 2017. She was a wife and mother of three. One person commented “She has the nicest bedside manner. She tells your children, ‘I love you’ and puts them at ease and is the sweetest, kindest caring doctor.”

We join the Austin community in grieving the loss of Dr. Dodson and are relieved that others were released or able to escape. It is difficult to imagine the widespread emotional trauma that this single incident will result in for everyone who was involved…employees, families, friends, first responders, investigators, and the community at large.

This incident is tragic, and could have been much, much worse. The man was apparently suicidal when he entered the facility, and for unknown reasons, he apparently also had a desire to end the lives of other innocent people as well. Was his visit a week prior a mission to learn what he could about the layout of the building and any security measures? Did he meet Dr. Dodson during that visit? We’ll probably never know.

It is also unfortunate that there was not an armed person inside who could have eliminated the threat and prevented the loss of an innocent life. Most medical facilities, as well as thousands of other workplaces, are gun free zones…known in the firearm community as a non-permissive environment (NPE). Unfortunately, as we have witnessed time and time again, the rules and signs serve only to disarm law abiding citizens with the legal right to carry a firearm to protect themselves and others while they are meaningless to someone who is intent on committing a crime. 

Lawmakers and business owners just do not seem to realize (or simple refuse to admit) that if the punishment for the crime of first-degree murder is not a deterrent, the punishment for violating a gun-free zone is irrelevant. In most cases, the assailants plan to commit suicide or be killed by police, so punishment for their crimes is not even a consideration in their twisted thought process.

Depending on the employer’s policies, violating a firearm restriction can result in anything from a verbal warning to termination of employment. From a legal standpoint, depending on the laws of the State, it can range from an infraction (similar to a parking ticket) to fines, jail time, and permanent revocation of concealed carry privileges.

As an individual, concealed carriers must be aware of their employer’s policies regarding firearms, as well any restrictions of any other places that they may enter in the course of their duties, or as a legally armed citizen. One must also be aware of all state laws regarding the carrying of a firearm.

More importantly, are you competent and confident that your actions would result in a positive outcome, or would they just make a bad situation worse? There are many incidents in which the improper presentation or use of a firearm has turned what may have been a survivable incident into a massacre. If you do not have the knowledge, skills, and ability to make intervene with a positive outcome, your actions could result in not only the loss of your life but the lives of other innocent people.

The bottom line is this: the responsibility for your personal safety and the safety of those around you, such as family, friends, co-workers, and even strangers, is your choice. Many times, choices have consequences. When you enter a non-permissive environment armed, are you prepared for the possible consequences? When you enter a non-permissive environment unarmed, are you prepared for the possible consequences?

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