2 dead in apparent murder-suicide at Pennsylvania hospice ward

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ALLENTOWN, Pa. — A man shot to death his wife and then himself Tuesday afternoon in the hospice ward of Lehigh Valley Hospital, Lehigh County District Attorney Jim Martin says.

Martin said that at 1:03 p.m. EDT three hospital staff on the fourth floor heard a gunshot coming from one of the hospice rooms. He said the incident was contained to the one patient room.

"I don't have any more detail I am prepared to release," Martin said about 2 p.m. at the hospital complex. "There were no eyewitnesses to this event."

No one may have seen the shooting, but other people heard the shots. Sitting in a small courtyard outside the hospital, a woman who refused to give her name said she was on the fourth floor visiting her mother when she heard gunfire.

"We were in my mother's room, and we heard two gunshots," the woman said. "We got out in the nick of time."

The woman said her mother's room was beside the one where the murder-suicide took place. She said her mother remained in her room.

According to the hospital's website, those eligible for hospice care are patients who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness, those with less than six months to live and those who choose care focused on making themselves comfortable rather than curing their illness.

Martin said the hospital was not evacuated. He said the Lehigh County coroner and other investigators could do their work without disturbing patients or staff.

When medical staff members went to the room, they found a female patient had been shot to death by her husband, who then turned the gun on himself, he said. Martin said he believes the deaths will be ruled a homicide and a suicide; the cause of death for both will be a single gunshot.

Lehigh Valley Hospital declined to comment at Martin's press conference.