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Police: Bar fight led to shooting at Scotland Memorial Hospital

Posted February 15, 2010
Updated February 18, 2010

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— Laurinburg police said that a bar fight motivated a gunman to critically wound a patient and try to kill the patient's girlfriend at Scotland Memorial Hospital before he could be subdued by officers early Monday.

Man wounded in Scotland Memorial Hospital shooting Man wounded in Scotland Memorial Hospital shooting

Police Capt. Kimothy Monroe said the shooting stemmed from an altercation around 2 a.m. at Ellison Club, on U.S. Highway 401 in McColl, S.C., about 8 miles from Laurinburg. He said that several people were involved in the altercation, including Jessica Gillespie, her boyfriend Domario Covington, 31, and another woman.

Covington suffered a laceration on his neck during the fight, and he and Gillespie went to Scotland Memorial Hospital.

Wayne "Wolf" Simmons, the 49-year-old father of the woman Gillespie had fought, came to the hospital around 3 a.m.

"It appears like the shooter identified himself as a relative of the patient, so we normally let him back," said Greg Wood, CEO of the Scotland Health Care System.

Simmons opened fired in a trauma room, shooting Covington several times in the upper body as he fought for his life, Monroe said.

“It was several times, more than two or three,” she said, referring to the number of gunshots.

Covington fled from the room, through the ER and out the hospital, shouting that he had been shot.

Simmons next pointed the gun at Gillespie and pulled the trigger, but the gun malfunctioned and didn't fire, Monroe said. Simmons then ran into the ER and brandishing the gun, sending people ducking under tables and chairs, police said. He threw the gun away and ran into the hospital parking lot, where police officers subdued him.

"He was already out. He was already fleeing on foot," Monroe said. "We really applaud the officers in this investigation."

Wood credited an ER nurse with acting heroically. While the shooter was still loose, the nurse rushed outside to help Covington, he said. The nurse's identity wasn't released.

“I think it speaks to the extraordinary staff we have in the emergency center and throughout the hospital," Wood said.

The nurse calmed Covington down and called for someone to bring a stretcher to take him back inside the hospital.

Covington is in critical but stable condition, hospital officials said.

Simmons, who has a heart condition, started complaining of chest pains, police said. He was treated at Scotland Memorial and then transferred to a hospital in Charlotte for safety reasons.

Monroe said that once released, Simmons will be charged with attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and discharging a firearm into a medical facility. Police said they recovered a small-caliber handgun from a trash can at the hospital.

Simmons was convicted of manslaughter more than a decade ago for the death of his cousin, according to court documents. In 2005, he was arrested for assault and battery with intent to kill.

Several other people have been detained for questioning, and police expect to make more arrests, Monroe said.

Wood said the shooting is a sad incident for this small town of about 16,000 and that nothing like it has happened in the 20 years he's been there.

Officers remained at the hospital late Monday morning, and a lockdown imposed after the shooting has been lifted.

"I want to stress that all (other) patients and staff are safe and were not injured in this incident," Wood said, adding that counseling is being provided to hospital staff.

Administrators will review hospital security, he said.

"We have extensive security measures ... to prevent incidents like this from extending through the hospital," he said. "Since the incident, we have maintained constant patrols and will continue to evaluate the safety situation."

A security force is on the campus around the clock, he said, but Scotland Memorial doesn't have security measures used at hospitals in larger cities, such as having a constant law enforcement presence and screening all visitors with metal detectors.

The 104-bed hospital has an average of about 75 patients at a time, and the ER sees approximately 100 patients daily, he said.

47 Comments

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  • boingc Feb 15, 4:57 p.m.

    "Yea lets do talk about irrational thoughts.....darn I don't have any.....however a stool with a pointy little hat for you....!!!"
    GWALLY

    So, I see you don't have anything useful to add to the conversation? Do you at least see my point -- that people don't tend to murder each other with cash, jewelry, tvs, and cars -- but they do with GUNS!?!

  • GWALLY Feb 15, 4:38 p.m.

    ..."and drowning each other in nickels, then maybe so. Wanna keep talking about irrational thoughts?..boingc..."

    Yea lets do talk about irrational thoughts.....darn I don't have any.....however a stool with a pointy little hat for you....!!!

  • boingc Feb 15, 3:51 p.m.

    "Irrational thought!!....the same could be said for cash, jewelry, TVs and cars...want to do away with these as well...???"

    Sure, when people start dropping TVs on people to kill them, and drowning each other in nickels, then maybe so. Wanna keep talking about irrational thoughts?

  • GWALLY Feb 15, 3:27 p.m.

    ..."Man stabs, kills estranged wife at Walmart..."

    I guess now we must ban all men and all WalMart parking lots since they seem to be the cause of murdered women...!!

  • GWALLY Feb 15, 3:22 p.m.

    ...."If there were no legitimate guns available for criminals to steal, then they wouldn't have them themselves...."

    Irrational thought!!....the same could be said for cash, jewelry, TVs and cars...want to do away with these as well...???

  • FromClayton Feb 15, 3:15 p.m.

    it is quite easy to walk into a hosptial with a gun. all you need is to give the 90 year old at the front desk the name of your "friend" and they tell you the room number. Just as long as you are within visiting hours, and have something to hide a gun in, you should be all clear to go find them and finish any job.

    The ER usually has a security guard (and sometimes one that looks like they could handle a situation) but the rest of the hosptial is wide open.

    (well they usually watch the newborn babies pretty well to...but other than that...free pickings)

  • ccs1920 Feb 15, 3:06 p.m.

    Lightfoot3/ Thanks for your reply.

  • Lightfoot3 Feb 15, 2:54 p.m.

    “Some of you continue to comment about a gun being legally registered. Will someone tell me how you register a gun in NC?” - ccs1920


    You don’t register guns in NC.

  • hollylama Feb 15, 2:13 p.m.

    Buckos..."Better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt." Obviously this phrase needs to be made current for the internet age. But it sounds like you're projecting...is your daughter dating someone you're not comfortable looking at? Cuz thats what it amounts to. The inability to see past your own qualms and issues.

  • boingc Feb 15, 2:11 p.m.

    "he is a felon. he can't own a gun legally. therefore, it absolutely underscores that those who shouldn't have guns will still have them if owning one becomes "illegal"."

    Uh, not really. Most criminals get their guns by stealing them from legitimate gun owners. If there were no legitimate guns available for criminals to steal, then they wouldn't have them themselves.

    I'm not trying to take your guns away -- just trying to point out that most criminals get their guns from people like you. Sure defend your home all you want -- I think that a shotgun is the best weapon for home defense. Pistols, however, are much easier to conceal and carry in public for the purpose of committing crimes.

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