After surrendering to police last weekend, Bradford Warren Powers Jr. complained that the doctors at Mission Bay Memorial Hospital were "quacks" and that he had shot several people there so they would not harm other patients, a police officer told The Times on Friday.
Powers was "just as calm as could be," said Officer Randy Judd of the Oceanside Police Department, who watched over the 46-year-old La Jolla man for two hours until San Diego authorities picked him up after he allegedly shot four people in the hospital emergency room.
"He said he didn't want an attorney, that he wanted to go in front of a judge and get it over with. He said he wanted the gas chamber."
Grief-stricken over his father's death in the emergency room eight hours earlier, police say, Powers walked into the hospital emergency room about 4:45 p.m.last Saturday and fired about eight rounds. A nurse and student medical trainee were killed; a doctor and a patient's father were wounded in the spray of bullets.
About an hour after the shootings, Powers telephoned police from a phone booth in Oceanside, saying he wanted to turn himself in. Once in police custody, Powers sat with Judd for about two hours, the officer said, until San Diego police arrived to hold him on suspicion of murder and assault.
Sitting calmly in an Oceanside holding cell, Powers continued to talk to Judd about the shootings, the officer said, "going over it like he wanted me to know what was going on. . . . He just said that he thought he had shot three or four people.
"He said: 'I shot them. I'm the guy you want,' " Judd said.
Police believe that Powers went to the hospital to avenge the death of his father, Brad Powers Sr., a well-known architectural illustrator. The elder Powers, 75, was overweight and suffered from heart and lung problems, doctors said. He had gone to the Mission Bay Memorial emergency room late Friday, complaining of shortness of breath, and was treated and released.
But, early the next morning, Powers Sr. returned to the emergency room, this time complaining of abdominal pain, said Dr. Harry Henderson, the hospital's chief of staff-elect.
On Saturday, doctors discovered an abdominal aneurysm, a condition they said was not present the previous day. Saying that surgery was the elder Powers' only hope for life, they decided to operate. But he suffered a heart attack on the operating table and died about 8:40 a.m.
Doctors and hospital officials have said they did all they could to save the elder Powers.
"Mission Bay hospital stands behind earlier statements that all care given to Mr. Powers was appropriate," hospital spokesman Jeff Simmons said Friday.
But some family members disagree. In an interview, architect Charles Powers, the brother of Brad Powers Jr., said the family is considering suing the hospital for medical malpractice.
Powers Jr. was also upset about the care his father had received, Judd said.
"He kept calling them quacks," the officer said. "He felt the doctor who did the surgery was responsible for his dad's death.
"He said somebody had to take care of business. He said these guys go out and do things, someone sues, so they move to another hospital, and nothing ever gets done about it."
While in the custody of Oceanside police, Powers was calm, though he was "emotionally upset about his dad," Judd said. "He said, 'I know I'm going to do a lot of time. Personally, I prefer the gas chamber just to get it over with.' "
Powers repeated himself several times and once asked for a glass of water, Judd said. But his primary concern seemed to be calling his mother, Mary. Powers lived with his parents in their La Jolla home.
"His major concern was, when detectives came up, he wanted to call his mom and tell her he'd done the shooting and turned himself in," Judd said.
"He wasn't irate, he didn't act abnormal. He was real calm. He knew what was going on."
During his arraignment Tuesday, Powers pleaded not guilty to two counts of murder and three counts of attempted murder. Bail was set at $2.5 million. Powers is being held in County Jail.