A disturbance at North Memorial Health Hospital that prompted a partial lockdown Thursday began when a man shot himself in Faribault, Minn.
The man suffered a nonfatal wound and was taken to the hospital in Robbinsdale, where dozens of relatives and friends converged in what escalated into a highly emotional scene.
“They’re all worried about this guy, so emotions are high,” said Robbinsdale Police Chief Jim Franzen, who added that in those situations, people sometimes blame one another for what happened or express frustration that they can’t get all the information they want or get access to certain areas of the hospital.
The hospital called police about 11:30 a.m. because “things were getting out of control,” and two people were physically fighting, he said. When officers arrived at the scene, they found the group was larger than they expected and they called for assistance.
“There was a lot of yelling and verbal aggression,” Franzen said. “People were pounding on doors and banging on windows trying to get into areas that were locked. It wasn’t a free-for-all … or a barroom brawl. It was volatile because it was highly emotional.”
It’s unclear how many people were involved in the incident, which quickly spread on social media, fueling wild speculation and rumor.
A person at the scene said about a dozen people were involved, but police said the number was likely much higher — 50 to 75 — noting that not everyone was in one area. Hospital officials estimated 30 to 50 people were involved.
“It’s like at Thanksgiving and Uncle Joe doesn’t like Uncle Bob and they start going at it,” Franzen said. Other family members were calm and cooperative, he noted.
No one was injured in the incident, which resulted in part of the hospital being locked down for about 90 minutes.
Franzen said one person was arrested for alleged trespassing and obstruction, and the city attorney will review the case to determine if other charges are warranted.
Hospital officials said staff and police responded quickly to de-escalate an emotionally charged gathering.
The incident “is proof that our security protocols work. As a Level 1 Trauma Center, we see serious injuries of all kinds.
“It is not uncommon for family members of patients to have strong emotional reactions to their loved one’s situation,” hospital officials said in a written statement.
“Knowing this, we have procedures in place to provide skilled and compassionate care to the patient and the immediate family while also working to minimize risk to patients and staff.”
Staff writer Jeremy Olson contributed to this report. firstname.lastname@example.org