Nurse Dies, Baby Born in Hospital Siege : Standoff: Utah man gives up after holding nine hostages in maternity wing for 17 hours. Police discover foot-square package of dynamite.
A man carrying dynamite and two guns shot and killed a nurse and took over a hospital maternity ward Saturday, police said. He gave up more than 17 hours later and freed nine hostages, including a baby born during the standoff.
Police said Richard L. Worthington, a 39-year-old father of eight, said he went to Alta View Hospital to kill a doctor who had operated on his wife two years ago to prevent her from becoming pregnant again.
“During initial negotiations he wanted his wife and the doctor, and he wanted to kill the doctor,” said Salt Lake Police Sgt. Don Bell, part of a team of negotiators who talked with Worthington by telephone during the standoff.
Worthington held six adults and three infants on the top floor of a maternity wing connected to the main building by an enclosed skywalk, police said.
One of the hostages gave birth about three hours into the standoff, hospital spokesman Jess Gomez said. Police said Worthington let nurses care for the infants.
Dr. Glade Curtis, an obstetrician, said Worthington had threatened him repeatedly since he performed surgery to tie the Fallopian tubes of Worthington’s wife, Karen. Curtis fled the hospital when the siege began.
Bell said Worthington maintained that he and his wife had not consented to the operation.
“He said they were all liars, they were all cheaters. He said, ‘Those doctors raped my wife,’ ” Bell said, his voice hoarse after hours of negotiations.
In Curtis’ office, near where Worthington held the hostages, police found a foot-square package of dynamite that could be detonated by remote control. Experts defused the dynamite, which Salt Lake County Sheriff Aaron Kennard said could have destroyed half a block.
Kennard said officers also found a shotgun and a .357-caliber magnum handgun that they believe was used to kill the nurse.
The siege began shortly after midnight. Dr. Brent Mabey, an emergency room physician, said a clerk ran into the hospital to say a man with a shotgun had blown out a window in the adjacent Women’s Health Center.
When police arrived, they found a woman who had been shot in the hospital’s parking lot, Mabey said. The victim, Karla Roth, 37, died in the emergency room.
Roth had been hired on Sept. 5, but had only worked in the emergency room for two nights, hospital administrator Douglas Fonnesbeck said.
More than 70 officers cordoned off the area and evacuated residents for three blocks east of the building in this Salt Lake City suburb. Land to the west, north and south is vacant.
Worthington began negotiating by telephone with police about 15 hours into the standoff, Police Chief Gary Leonard said. He said Worthington gave himself up when authorities assured him that he would be safe.
Worthington’s wife and the local Mormon bishop were at the scene but were kept from reporters. The couple has eight children, the oldest a senior in high school and the youngest about 2 years old.