Shooting reported at county health office in Vancouver
Four shots were reportedly fired inside the Clark County Public Health building just minutes before 4 p.m. A Veterans Affair employee was injured in Vancouver's second shooting at an office this week.
Two people were injured and a suspect was in custody Tuesday following the second Vancouver workplace shooting this week.
The shots — four in all — were reported on the fourth floor of building 17, the Center for Community Health, on the Veterans Affairs campus, 1601 E. Fourth Plain Blvd. shortly before 4 p.m. The ensuing minutes saw a flurry of activity as law enforcement swept the building and employees and building patrons sought shelter.
The suspect, unnamed as of Tuesday evening, is described as a 46-year-old woman with blond hair, wearing gray pants and a blue blouse. Police recovered a revolver at the scene, according to emergency radio traffic monitored by The Columbian.
A 45-year-old man, who works for the regional Veterans Integrated Service Network, was taken to a nearby hospital with a gunshot wound. It was not considered life-threatening and the man’s name was not released Tuesday evening. The Veterans Integrated Service Network is headquartered on the fourth floor, according to the Portland VA Medical Center.
Police wouldn’t comment on whether the suspect was among the injured. According to emergency radio traffic, the suspect had a cut on her face. She was detained and taken from the building by an armed county employee, who had reportedly held her down after the shooting.
Investigators with the Clark County Sheriff’s Office have not described a motive for the shooting.
Waiting for the all-clear
Employees of the building, along with patients, were told to either evacuate or stay in a safe place while police responded to the shooting. Police cleared each floor and evacuated people from the scene, but the building remained on lockdown Tuesday evening. The fourth floor is the building’s top floor. It houses a federal Veterans Affairs office, Clark County Community Services and a county purchasing field office.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is divided into 23 regional service areas. The Vancouver site, VISN 20, is a regional health network that covers Washington, Oregon, Alaska and Idaho, as well as one county each in Montana and northern California.
Marc Lindsay, who works for Southwest Washington Behavioral Health, said he was heading from the second floor to the first when police arrived. He was on his way to the parking lot when he ran into officers.
“Cops flooded in,” he said, “They blocked all the entrances.”
Another county public health employee was sitting at his desk on the third floor when he heard loud noises coming from the floor above him.
“It sounded like what you would expect gunshots to sound like,” said the employee, who asked to not be identified. “It was like an explosion.”
He ran to the Veterans Affairs building located to the south of the Center for Community Health, where he found numerous other people who fled the building. In the aftermath, they appeared panicked, he said.
Meanwhile, Joshua Pulliam, a patient of Lifeline on the second floor, was told to stay put when the shooting was first reported. At the time, the second floor was considered a safe place.
The Center for Community Health houses numerous organizations, including Clark County Public Health, Clark County Veterans Assistance Program, Community Services Northwest, Consumer Voices Are Born, Lifeline Connections, SeaMar, and Cowlitz Indian Tribe Health & Human Services.
The Clark County Sheriff’s Office is leading the investigation into the shooting. The FBI offered to assist the sheriff’s office in case because the VA is a federal agency.
Although the Vancouver Veterans Affairs campus will be open today, the fourth floor of the Center for Community Health may remain closed as part of the investigation, said Sgt. Fred Neiman, spokesman for the sheriff’s office.
Tuesday’s shooting is the second to occur at a Vancouver workplace this week. On Monday, a driver at Benjamin Moore Paints, Robert R. Brown, reportedly shot and killed Ryan Momeny, a manager at the company’s paint distribution warehouse, according to Vancouver police. Police said Brown died at the scene, of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound.