Fountain Valley hospital workers subdue man armed with pellet and flare guns, authorities say

Fountain Valley police responded to MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center after reports of a possible shooter.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

A man who armed himself with a pellet gun and flare pistol before attempting to enter a Fountain Valley hospital was subdued by workers outside the facility late Wednesday morning, authorities say.

Fountain Valley Police responded to the MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center at about 11:40 a.m., according to Lt. Jarrod Frahm. Once there, they saw a man being detained by some workers.

Frahm said the man was carrying a pellet gun, as well as a flare gun, and was apparently trying to enter the hospital before he was taken into custody.

“He didn’t actually make it inside the ER,” Frahm said. “There was some kind of nexus between him and maybe a patient there.”


In a statement, Orange Coast Medical Center said the incident “remained outside the hospital and our patients and staff are safe.”

“The safety of our patients, families and staff is of the utmost importance,” the statement added. “We notified the police of suspicious activity outside of the hospital today. Police responded and resolved the matter.”

Before officers arrived, the man had reportedly fired his flare gun at least twice and said something to the effect of “I need some help; if I don’t get some help, I’m going to hurt somebody,” according to Frahm.

The man apparently had been living in an RV that was parked nearby.

Though the suspect was ultimately subdued outside, reports of a potential active shooter situation raced through the medical center.

Jacqueline Alvarez, a 34-year-old office assistant, said she was on break when she heard that someone might be armed with a weapon. She said she ran to her building to lock the doors and could see police run to the emergency area and arrest the man.

Alvarez said she remembers feeling “the fear of not knowing where this person was and adrenaline racing — just to get myself to safety and lock our facility door.”

“My sister-in-law works at the hospital and was closed off in a room with co-workers after the active shooter was reported,” Deborah Sullivan-Brennan wrote in a follow-up email after posting what she had heard on Twitter. “My brother called police and learned they were already there. About 10 minutes ago he called us and said police caught” the suspect.

Nguyen writes for Times Community News.