Local News

Hospital Guard On Administrative Leave After Shooting

Posted August 15, 2003 9:32 a.m. EDT

— The inmate shot in the head by a security guard at Durham Regional Hospital was in critical condition Friday.

The security guard, meanwhile, was on administrative leave. But according to state law, he had every right to fire his weapon.

Hospital officals said they have 140 security cameras on the premises, and they captured the entire incident as it unfolded. Durham police are using those cameras in their investigation.

A day after the incident, Durham Regional officials defended the hospital's safety practices.

A jailer brought Vincent Sigona to the hospital Thursday after Sigona complained of stomach pains. Police said Sigona ran out of the emergency room after his handcuffs and shackles were removed.

According to investigators, Sigona dragged a nurse out of her car in the employee parking lot and jumped behind the wheel. He drove about 30 feet before the security guard fired through the windshield, hitting Sigona in the head.

Sigona was in critical condition Friday at Duke. He is expected to live.

The guard works for Safeway Security, a Fayetteville company hired by Durham Regional.

"We actually have contract police-force officers that we contract to guard the emergency-room doors that have gone through the appropriate training to carry arms," said Kevin Sowers, the hospital's interim CEO.

A Safeway spokesman said the jailer asked for the security guard's help after the inmate got loose. That is a crucial detail because North Carolina law states that "when so requested, a private person has the same authority to effect an arrest or prevent escape from custody as the officer making the arrest."

The guard is on administrative leave while Safeway conducts an internal investigation and Durham police conduct theirs.

In the meantime, Durham Regional is conducting business as usual.

"Pending the investigation and what we learn from the investigation, we will go back and review our policies," Sowers said. "But right now, nothing has changed."