Worker killed at Bethesda's Suburban Hospital, prompting lockdown and police search

By Ruben Castaneda
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, January 1, 2011; 6:35 PM

An employee was killed inside Suburban Hospital in Bethesda on Saturday, prompting Montgomery County police to put the facility on lockdown for more than three hours as they searched for the attacker, authorities said.

Dozens of officers, and at least one police dog, searched the entire 222-bed hospital and accounted for every patient, hospital employee and visitor, said Lucille Baur, a Montgomery County police spokeswoman.

The attacker has not yet been found.

As the search was conducted, visitors and patients were not allowed to leave the hospital, and people who were being brought to the facility for treatment were diverted to other hospitals, said Ronna Borenstein, a Suburban spokeswoman.

The hospital was reopened shortly before 2:30 p.m., after police determined that there was no danger to patients, visitors or staff members, Baur said.

Citing the ongoing investigation, officials said little about the circumstances of the death, which Baur said is being investigated as a homicide. Baur said the investigation is "very active," but said police did not have a description of any possible suspect; she would not say whether they believe they have identified one.

The victim, a 40-year-old man, was found in a "non-patient care" area of the hospital, Borenstein said, but she did not say whether the area in question is open to the public or restricted to hospital workers. Baur said that the man had suffered trauma to the upper body, but declined to be more specific. Police were dispatched to the hospital after reports of a stabbing, but Baur would not confirm that the victim was stabbed to death.

Police were notifying the victim's relatives and said his name would probably be released Sunday.

The victim has been working at the hospital since 2006, Borenstein said, but she did not specify what his job was.

Borenstein and Baur also would not detail the circumstances under which the victim was found, declining to say whether another hospital worker found him or whether someone in the facility heard a commotion.

The search for the attacker kept some visitors locked inside the hospital for hours.

One of those visitors, Diane Hack Gould, said the mood inside was calm, even as police searched every room.

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