AUSTIN (KXAN) — After a hostage situation that lasted more than six hours in a central Austin pediatric office, two doctors are dead: one is the victim, the other the shooter.
The Austin Police Department says at 4:29 p.m. Tuesday, it was reported the shooter, identified as Dr. Bharat Narumanchi, entered the Children’s Medical Group building located at 1912 West 35th Street with a gun and held five adult employees hostage — who he commanded to tie themselves up.
While a few of the hostages were reportedly allowed to leave by Narumanchi, the victim, who APD has identified as Dr. Katherine Lindley Dodson, 42, was not.
While Narumanchi, who was recently diagnosed with terminal cancer, didn’t work at Children’s Medical Group, police say he’d been at the office just last week to apply for a volunteer position. Narumanchi, also a pediatrician, was reportedly rejected for the role.
“We feel like his terminal cancer probably played a large part in whatever occurred in his life and what was happening yesterday,” an APD officer said Wednesday. “But we don’t know why he targeted this particular business.”
It’s not believed Dodson and Narumanchi had any prior relationship.
Standoff ends, investigation continues
The standoff proceeded into the night, when, after several hours of being unable to communicate with Narumanchi, loud bangs were heard around 10:50 p.m. APD sent in a robot, which was then able to see and identify Dodson. The SWAT team then entered and found both doctors dead.
The original call came in at about 4:29 p.m. as doctors and nurses ran from the scene. The department said some people in the area were evacuated. They did not give any information on how many people were involved in the incident. SWAT was called, and set up a perimeter.
KXAN crews on scene reported SWAT could be heard giving commands over a loud speaker or megaphone to the barricaded doctor, trying to communicate with him. They identified him as a doctor when they spoke to him.
“You dedicated your entire life to helping people who cannot help themselves by working with those terminally-ill newborns,” hostage negotiators told the doctor, who was their suspected gunman.
KXAN’s Jody Barr provided the below video of the communications from negotiators, which are loud enough to be heard in nearby blocks.
The scene remained an active investigation until 7:20 a.m.
Neighbors share what they witnessed
“I heard the booms,” said witness Shelley Todd, who lives less than a block from the scene.
“We were a quiet neighborhood, you know we’re dog-friendly, we’re people-friendly, and for this to go on, and we’re a medical neighborhood, too. I know people that go to that office,” Todd continued.
She called the situation distressing, especially considering how the world is right now with the coronavirus pandemic.
John Thomas also lives near the building. He said he heard the messages SWAT negotiators were broadcasting to the subject over and over for hours.
“I thought there were kids in there,” he said. “We didn’t have any idea [what was happening].” Police later confirmed no patients had been in the office at the time.