On Monday night, a stray bullet broke through a first-floor window of Crozer-Chester Medical Center in Upland, Pa., striking a 62-year old female patient in the abdomen. None of the woman’s internal organs were hit, and she is recovering in stable condition after surgery to close the wound.
With an investigation ongoing, Delaware County District Attorney John Whelan says the incident points to a need for better neighborhood safety, rather than increased hospital security.
“I believe the hospital is very safe. I utilize the services of the hospital for myself and my family. I think this was more of a fluke thing,” Whelan said. “However, with that said, I believe that we need to increase the patrols in the city of Chester in certain areas.”
Crozer-Chester spokesman Grant Gegwich gave a similar assessment, saying that this was not a security issue, but rather a freak incident.
Whelan says the shot could have been fired from up to a mile away and the investigation is focusing on Crosby Square Apartments and homes in a nearby Chester neighborhood.
“It is an area that is not uncommon to have incidents of violence, including shots fired, reported to the police,” Whelan says.
Though Whelan has never heard of this happening in a hospital, he says that stray bullets have hit Chester residents in their homes before. An anti-violence task force was formed within the last year or so for the area.
Investigators are working with recovered bullet fragments to identify the shooter, who likely used a 40-caliber weapon.
“Just to fire a weapon in an area recklessly like that would generate felony aggravated assault charges and they’re looking at a long period of incarceration in a state institution,” Whelan said.
WHYY called other Philadelphia-area hospitals, but found no similar occurrences of stray bullets hitting patients. Temple Health representative Rebecca Harmon said that more than two years ago a bullet hit a window at the Episcopal Campus, but no one was injured.