Husband shoots wife, self in murder-suicide at Lehigh Valley Hospital

March 20, 2013 6:39:29 AM PDT
Officials say a man fatally shot his wife and himself at Lehigh Valley Hospital 17th Street campus in Allentown because he could not live without her.

The couple is identified as 83-year-old Mildred Osman and 86-year-old Elwood Osman of Cherryville, Pa. in Northampton County.

"It's a love story. The elderly gentleman could not bear to see his wife suffering and the family, I believe, have observed that he could not envision living without her," Jim Geiger Senior Vice President of Operations at Lehigh Valley Health Network said during afternoon news conference.

Police say the shooting happened around 1:00 p.m. Tuesday in the fourth floor hospice unit inside the facility at 17th and Chew streets.

Workers heard the shots and found two people inside one of the rooms.

Police say Elwood walked into the room, shot and killed his wife, then shot himself.

"Both the female and the male are deceased from presumed single gunshot wounds." Lehigh County District Attorney Jim Martin said.

Residents on the floor were not evacuated because hospital officials say they felt the situation was contained.

Geiger said no other staff members or visitors were harmed.

"At this point in time, our hearts go out to the families that are impacted as well as our colleagues," Geiger said.

Family members say Mildred Osman, who had a number of medical problems, had a debilitating stroke a few weeks ago.

Neighbors of the Osmans say they had lived in their Cherryville home for some time, describing them as private people who were very much in love.

"They looked at each and they use to laugh when you talked about life in general. They said they were getting older and if something would happen there would be no sense in living one without the other they said," family friend Keith Hantz said.

For those who knew the couple, they say it's a tragic end to a love story.

"Really at this time it's just unbelievable; I can't believe it, but it's just sad, very sad," Hantz said.

As for security, there are no metal detectors in the hospital, but Geiger does say wands are used on occasion.

"There is an opportunity to use a wanding technology in the event that a patient is brought in that we have concerns that they might have been involved in an incident that we want to potentially check for weapons, but on a routine basis we do not have a metal detector scan or screen," Geiger said.

Geiger said extra security was in place in the hospital Tuesday night.

"We've actually been in active consultation with our law enforcement colleagues about ways that they'd recommend that we could enhance security at all of our campus facilities," Geiger said.

The hospital released the following statement: This is a very tragic event and our hearts go out to the family of the deceased and our Lehigh Valley Health Network colleagues who were involved.