Patient dead in hospital shooting

TOMS RIVER, N.J. - October 10, 2008 It was 12:21 Friday afternoon when the shots rang out from a patient's room on the second floor.

The 87-year-old patient, identified by neighbors as Helen Mason, died from a gunshot to the head. Her 88 year old husband Charlie, who also suffered a gunshot wound to the head, was airlifted to Jersey Shore Medical Center in Neptune.

The couple lived in Holiday City at Berkeley, a retirement community.

"His wife in the last three weeks took a massive stroke, I think also a heart attack, she was not able to communicate at all to him. He felt very bad about it," said neighbor Larry Puccio.

"I feel very sad about it. Nice folks. It's a terrible tragedy for Charlie, his wife and their children," said Grace Puccio.

The last word was that Charlie Mason was in critical condition.

Police say another female patient was in the room at the time of the shooting and is being questioned by detectives. A small caliber handgun was also found in the room.

The hospital went into immediate lockdown for a short time after the shooting.

"The nurse came to my wifes door, closed it and said we're having an emergency," said Bob Graziano of Berkeley, New Jersey.

Graziano's wife is a patient on the second floor where the shooting occured.

"I think it's horrible. I mean what can you think about somebody shooting somebody in the hospital? How did he get in here with a gun in the first place?" said Graziano.

Action News learned that, like most hospitals, visitors are not checked for weapons at Community Medical Center.

The hospital had no comment.

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