2 Methodist Health System employees killed in maternity ward shooting

Two Methodist Health System employees were killed Saturday morning in a maternity ward shooting at Methodist Dallas Medical Center, according to statements from the system and other officials.

The suspect, Nestor Oswaldo Hernandez, 30, was shot at and injured by a Methodist Health System police officer before being detained and arrested for capital murder, according to the system and officials. He was stabilized and taken to another local hospital for treatment of his gunshot wound, Methodist Health said.

“The Methodist Health System Family is heartbroken at the loss of two of our beloved team members,” the system’s executive leadership wrote in a public statement released Saturday. “Our entire organization is grieving this unimaginable tragedy. During this devastating time, we want to ensure our patients, physicians, employees and community that Methodist Dallas Medical Center is safe, and there is no ongoing threat. Our prayers are with our lost co-workers and their families, as well as our entire Methodist family.”

The Dallas County Medical Examiner’s Office has so far released the identity of one victim—Jacqueline Ama Pokuaa, 45—and is reportedly withholding the second until their next of kin has been notified.

The victims’ roles within the system have not been shared by the hospital, although statements given to media by coworkers suggest at least one was a nurse.

Hernandez was on parole for aggravated robbery and was permitted to visit the hospital with an ankle bracelet as his girlfriend gave birth, the Dallas Police Department told the press. According to an arrest warrant cited by a CNN affiliate, Hernandez accused his girlfriend of infidelity and had struck her multiple times before shooting at hospital employees who entered the room.

“This is a tragedy, and an abhorrent failure of our criminal justice system,” Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia tweeted Saturday afternoon.

Serena Bumpus, CEO of the Texas Nurses Association, said in a statement that the shooting “is unacceptable” and another episode of increasing workplace violence toward healthcare workers. She cited a September Press Ganey report estimating 57 assaults against nurses occur daily across the U.S.

“No person should fear for their life for merely going to work, especially a nurse or healthcare worker whose passion is to help others heal,” she said. “We hope our legislators understand that we need to protect our healthcare workers."

Gun violence in healthcare settings was a key topic of debate earlier this year after a shooter at Tulsa’s Saint Francis Hospital led to five deaths. Healthcare providers and organizations have also painted the tens of thousands of gun violence patients seen in emergency departments every year as a public health issue requiring stronger action from Congress.