Man Fires Flare Gun, Threatens to Shoot Up O.C. Medical Center

The 51-year-old suspect was subdued by an ER doctor and nurse at MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center before police arrived.

Fountain Valley, California — A man armed with a flare gun and a pellet gun was subdued by hospital employees outside a California medical center emergency room.

Fountain Valley Police and FBI officials responded to the MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center at about 11:40 a.m. Wednesday after receiving several calls about a possible active shooter incident, reports ABC 7.

When officials arrived, they found the suspect, later identified as 51-year-old Christopher Thomas Ray, detained by a doctor and a nurse. The unidentified employees confronted Ray after a security guard notified staff inside the ER of the incident.

Before officers arrived, Ray had reportedly fired his flare gun at least once and walked over to the ER “saying something along line lines of he’s going to go and shoot up the hospital,” said Lieutenant Jarrod Frahm. Ray never made it into the hospital, Frahm added.

The flare gun and a pellet gun were found in Ray’s possession but the pellet gun was not loaded, according to The LA Times. While flare guns aren’t intended for use as a weapon, it could have caused serious injury or death if shot off inside the hospital, Frahm said.

Although the suspect was ultimately subdued outside, the reports of a possible active shooter spread throughout the hospital.

Jacqueline Alvarez, a 34-year-old office assistant, said she was on a break when she heard that someone in the hospital might be armed. She then ran into her building to lock the doors and could see police running toward the emergency room.

“A lot of security, a lot of police arrivals very, very promptly, just running near the emergency department,” she said.

An investigation determined Ray’s girlfriend was a patient at the hospital and he had been living in an RV that was parked nearby.

Ray is being held on $500,000 bail and is scheduled to appear in court Friday.

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Amy is Campus Safety’s Senior Editor. Prior to joining the editorial team in 2017, she worked in both events and digital marketing.

Amy’s mother, brother, sister-in-law and a handful of cousins are teachers, motivating her to learn and share as much as she can about campus security. She has a minor in education and has worked with children in several capacities, further deepening her passion for keeping students safe.

In her free time, Amy enjoys exploring the outdoors with her husband, her son and her dog.

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