The doctor who shot seven people, killing one woman, before turning the gun on himself at a Bronx hospital, sent a chilling email to a New York newspaper just two hours before the deadly rampage.
Dr Henry Bello used an AR-15 assault rifle in the attack on the 16th and 17th floors of the Bronx Lebanon Hospital on Friday around 2.45pm.
About two hours before the deadly shooting, the 45-year-old sent an email to the New York Daily News blaming two doctors for terminating ‘my road to a licensure to practice medicine’.
Bello, who was described on the hospital’s website as a family medicine physician, wrote: ‘First, I was told it was because I always kept to myself. Then it was because of an altercation with a nurse.’
On Friday evening it was revealed that Bello had been forced to resign over sexual harassment accusations.
However, in the email that was sent at 12.46pm, Bello said he was told his termination stemmed from him threatening a colleague.
He said he then sent an email to that colleague ‘congratulating her for my termination after she sent out an email to everybody telling them to file complaints against me so I can be terminated for being rude to her’.
‘I only said in the email, it remains to be seen if my life is meaningless or disposable,’ Bello wrote.
Bello then blamed another doctor for ruining his career, adding that the doctor ‘blocked’ him from getting his medical permit despite him pouring $400,000 of his money into the hospital and the family medicine department.
According to the Daily News, an editor at the newspaper didn’t make the connection to Bello until after the shooting.
The newspaper is also withholding the names of the two doctors whom Bello said caused his termination. Bello shot himself after trying to set himself on fire at the Bronx Lebanon Hospital at around 2.45pm on Friday.
He staggered, bleeding, into a hallway where he collapsed and died with the rifle at his side, police said.
Police Commissioner James O’Neill confirmed Bello died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
A former colleague described Bello as a problematic employee, and said he was ‘aggressive’ and ‘threatened people’.
However, in the email he sent to the Daily News, Bello didn’t threaten violence against anyone.
The attack on Friday left several doctors fighting for their lives, and witnesses described a chaotic scene as gunfire erupted and spread terror throughout the medical facility. Employees locked themselves inside rooms and patients feared for their lives.
‘I thought I was going to die,’ said Renaldo Del Villar, a patient who was in the third-floor emergency room getting treatment for a lower back injury.
In 2015, Bello was allowed to resign from the hospital after being accused of sexual harassment, according to two law enforcement officials. They did not know the details of the allegations, and agreed to speak on condition of anonymity because the investigation is still unfolding.
However, Dr Maureen Kwankam, 50, told the New York Daily News he was fired from the hospital ‘because he was kind of crazy’.
‘He promised to come back and kill us then,’ she said.
Bello also tried to set fire to the nurses station on the 16th floor, but the hospital’s sprinkler system put it out before the blaze could grow.
‘This was a horrible situation unfolding in a place that people associated with care and comfort, a situation that came out of nowhere,’ New York City mayor Bill de Blasio said. He also said terrorism did not play a role.
According to New York State Education Department records, Bello had a limited permit to practice as an international medical graduate to gain experience in order to be licensed. The permit was issued on July 1, 2014, and expired last year on the same day.
Bello ‘was very aggressive, talking loudly, threatening people all the time. He was a problem,’ said Dr David Lazala, a family medicine doctor who said he trained Bello at Bronx Lebanon.
He said Bello, who worked at night as a doctor, sent him a threatening email after Bello was fired.
In unrelated cases, the doctor had been arrested in 2004 on a charge of sexual abuse, according to a police report, after a 23-year-old woman told police Bello grabbed her, lifted her up and carried her off, saying: ‘You’re coming with me.’
He was arrested again in 2009 on a charge of unlawful surveillance, after two different women reported he was trying to look up their skirts with a mirror.
Employees and their loved ones described the horrifying moments immediately after the shooting as they scrambled for information.
Garry Trimble said his fiancee, hospital employee Denise Brown, called him from inside the hospital to tell him about the gunman.
‘She woke me up and told me there was a situation, somebody’s out there shooting people,’ Trimble said as he waited for Brown to leave the hospital. ‘I could hear in her voice she was shaking and about to cry.’
Gonzalo Carazo described the scary scene to WCBS-TV: ‘I saw one of the doctors and he had a gunshot wound to his hand,’ Carazo said.
‘All I heard was a doctor saying, “Help, help!”‘ Carazo locked himself in a room for about 15 minutes until police came and led him out of the facility.
Witness Dione Morales, who has been a patient at the hospital for 17 years, told CBS New York the shooter had threatened to kill people back when he was fired.
‘He was let go because I guess they figured he was unstable. He said he was going to do this,’ she said. ‘He said he was going to kill people, two years ago when he was let go – two years… and now look what happened.’
Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center describes itself as the largest voluntary, not-for-profit health care system in the south and central Bronx.
The 120-year-old hospital claims nearly 1,000 beds spread across multiple units. Its emergency room is among the busiest in New York City.
The hospital is about a mile and a half north of Yankee Stadium.
In 2011, two people were shot at Bronx Lebanon in what police said was a gang-related attack.