Police arrest man suspected of shooting flare gun outside Fountain Valley medical center

Fountain Valley police officers and FBI agents investigate the scene where there were reports of a possible shooter at MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley on Wednesday.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

Fountain Valley police arrested a Chino man on Wednesday at the MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley after responding to reports of an active shooter.

Calls came in around 11:40 a.m. about a possible active shooter in the parking lot of the medical center. The suspect had shot at least one flare gun round into the air while making verbal threats to “shoot up the hospital,” police said.

A security guard witnessed the incident and retreated inside to alert authorities. A doctor and nurse confronted the suspect and subdued him until police arrived. Police said the man’s girlfriend was being treated at the hospital.

Police recovered a flare gun and a replica firearm from the suspect, Thomas Christopher Ray, 51, at the scene.

“This is believed to be an isolated incident, and there is no ongoing threat to the community,” police Sgt. Donald Farmer said in a news release.

Fountain Valley police arrested Thomas Christopher Ray, 51, on Wednesday.
(Fountain Valley Police Department)

There were no injuries or property damage and the investigation is ongoing. Charges are pending.

Jacqueline Alvarez, 34, an office assistant who works in the Pain Medicine division at the medical center, said she was on her break when she heard that there were reports of a weapon. She said she ran to her building to lock the doors and saw police run to the emergency area and detain the suspect.

"[I was feeling] the fear of not knowing where this person was and adrenaline racing just to get myself to safety and lock our facility door.”

MemorialCare said in a statement that hospital staff notified the police and officers resolved the matter, adding that “the incident remained outside the hospital and our patients and staff are safe.”

Reports on social media indicated that people in the hospital had been warned of a possible shooter.

“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 shooter.”

Luke Money is a staff writer with the Los Angeles Times.

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