Photo from Children’s Medical Group
The family of a terminally-ill doctor who killed a pediatrician before fatally turning a gun on himself expressed sympathy Thursday for the pediatrician’s family.
His family released a statement hoping to “extend our most sincere condolences and most fervent prayers to the family, friends and colleagues of Dr. Lindley Dodson. We share your grief for a life so senselessly cut short.”
On Tuesday afternoon, Indian American pediatrician Bharat Narumanchi killed Lindley Dodson, a pediatrician and mother of three, the Austin American-Statesman reported. The murder-suicide occurred after an hours-long standoff with Austin police at Dodson’s Children’s Medical Group office.
“We don’t understand our son’s motives or actions but feel this time is best spent remembering Dr. Dodson and her contributions to this world,” the statement continued. “We are cooperating with the investigators as they seek to make sense of this tragedy.”
A 911 call came at 4:30 p.m. describing a man who entered the office with a gun and was holding hostages inside the building. No patients or children were present, and several hostages were able to escape or allowed to leave.
When police were unable to establish contact with Narumanchi for several hours, a mobile robot equipped with a camera was sent inside. Upon seeing the body of at least one person, the police SWAT team breached the office and discovered Dodson and Narumanchi, who investigators believe killed himself after killing Dodson.
There is no clear connection between Narumanchi and Dodson. According to several hostages, Narumanchi applied for a volunteer position at the Children’s Medical Group a week ago but never came into contact with Dodson.
Police later identified Narumanchi as a practicing pediatrician himself who was licensed to practice medicine in Oklahoma, Connecticut, Wisconsin, Florida and California. His employment records show that he mainly practiced in Southern California. There is also no clear explanation for Narumanchi’s presence in Austin, though he did have family in the area.
Further investigation also brought Narumanchi’s recent diagnosis of terminal cancer to light. He had been given weeks to live. A former colleague of Narumanchi, Obstetrician H. Joseph Khan, said that Narumanchi sought treatment for his cancer at UCLA, according to Austin American-Statesman.
The police believe that Narumanchi’s diagnosis may have contributed to his actions. “We feel like his terminal cancer probably played a large part in whatever it was in his life that was happening [Tuesday],” Austin police Lieutenant Jeff Greenwalt said. “The family was entertaining the hospice care step and that process.”
For many of Narumanchi’s friends and family, the news of the incident was shocking. Khan said he was unaware of any history of psychological issues that Narumanchi may have had or any sign of Narumanchi taking medication.
Dodson was mourned by the community, who constructed a memorial of flowers and ribbons outside of her office. “She has the nicest bedside manner,” client Michelle Sweitzer told KEYE-TV. “She tells your children, ‘I love you’ and puts them at ease and is the sweetest, kindest caring doctor.”
Anyone in crisis can contact the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. Bilingual help is available in dozens of languages.
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