GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A man who fatally shot himself outside a downtown Grand Rapids hospital Wednesday left behind a note hinting at a “gift” for police, they said, prompting them to spend nearly three hours investigating suspicious packages that turned out not to contain anything threatening.
Just before 5 p.m., the 26-year-old man shot himself once in the head on the sidewalk just outside the Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital emergency room, according to the Grand Rapids Police Department.
A witness told 24 Hour News 8 over the phone Wednesday night that he spoke to the man just before he shot himself. Damien Donley said he saw the man after leaving the hospital and asked the man how he was doing and the man replied that he was “doing okay.” Moments later, Donley said the man shot himself.
“I walked directly across the street and all of a sudden I see him walk up to the front of the emergency entrance, where the ambulance and stuff pulls in, and he had this red backpack with him and he pulled the gun out of the backpack, put it up to his head and pulled the trigger,” Donley told 24 Hour News 8. “He seemed very normal. There was no hesitation, there was no aggression. There was no nothing.”
Donley said the man never pointed the gun at anyone else.
The man was rushed into the hospital to be treated, but police said he died less than an hour and a half later.
GRPD Sgt. Terry Dixon said a “suicide note” found on the man’s person made reference to a “package” or “gift” left behind for police.
In response, officers searched the area and found the backpack near where the man shot himself. They blocked off Barclay Avenue NE between Michigan and Crescent streets near the ER entrance. The immediate area was evacuated and members of the media were advised to take cover around a corner.
Around 6:50 p.m., police said they had found there were no threatening contents in the bag.
The hospital itself was never evacuated and Spectrum Health officials said they were still treating patients as usual. The emergency room entrance was closed for about two hours as police investigated, but reopened around 7 p.m.
After clearing the area of the hospital, police responded to the Bostwick Avenue parking ramp on Grand Rapids Community College campus, which is adjacent to the hospital. A car linked to the man who shot himself was found in that ramp, and there was a suspicious package inside.
GRPD said around 7:45 p.m. that investigators had gotten into the vehicle and checked out the package, finding there was nothing threatening in it.
GRCC students and staff were told to shelter in place as police investigated at the ramp. That order was lifted around 8:10 p.m.
Police said after clearing the scene at GRCC that they did not believe there to be any further threat.
GRPD on Wednesday did not release the name of the man who shot himself, but said he was believed to be a resident of Wyoming. GRCC said the man worked for Follett Higher Education, the contracted vendor that runs the campus bookstore. He was not a current GRCC student.
Sgt. Dixon said police didn’t know right away why he chose to shoot himself outside the hospital.
There was no indication he threatened anyone else with his gun.
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