ER staff detain man with flare gun who prompted active shooter response at O.C. hospital: Police

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Fountain Valley police were called to MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center for reports of a possible shooter on April 8, 2020.(Allen J. Schab

Fountain Valley police were called to MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center for reports of a possible shooter on April 8, 2020.(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

A doctor and nurse subdued a man who fired a flare gun while making threats outside their emergency room in Fountain Valley Wednesday, officials said.

Thomas Christopher Ray, 51, of Chino, was at MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center because his girlfriend was being treated there, according to a news release from the Fountain Valley Police Department.

Around 11:40 a.m., several people reported an active shooter at the hospital.

Witnesses reported a man fired off rounds and was seen walking over to the ER, “saying something along line lines of he’s going to go and shoot up the hospital,” police Lt. Jared Frahm said.

Ray allegedly fired the flare gun into the air at least once while making the verbal threats.

A security guard notified staff inside the ER, and the unidentified doctor and nurse went outside to confront the man identified as Ray. They were able to subdue and detain the suspect until police arrived to arrest him, Frahm said.

Officers found the flare gun as well as a replica handgun in Ray’s possession, the lieutenant said.

Though the flare gun isn’t intended for use as a weapon, it still could have caused serious injury or even death if shot off inside the hospital, Frahm said.

Since the incident was reported as an active shooting, FBI officials also responded to the scene.

Police have not described a suspected motive behind the incident, and Frahm said investigators are still “exploring” what charges they will recommend.

Ray was being held on $50,000 bail and scheduled to appear in court Friday, inmate records show.

In a statement, MemorialCare said the incident remained outside the hospital, and all patients and staff were safe.

Correction: This post has been updated to correct the name of Lt. Frahm.

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