The man accused of firing several rounds inside Wyoming Medical Center last week entered the hospital through a back security door and shot at two hospital employees before being arrested in a tunnel somewhere beneath the hospital, a Casper police detective testified Thursday.
The testimony came during a preliminary hearing for 20-year-old Mitchell Taylor. Investigators suspect Taylor entered the state’s largest hospital early on the morning of March 4 while high on LSD and fired several gunshots before police found and arrest him.
He’s charged with two counts of aggravated assault, property damage and use of a firearm while committing a felony and is currently being held on a $500,000 bond. During Thursday’s hearing in Natrona County Circuit Court, he sat in an orange jail uniform next to his attorney, Joseph Cole.
A judge found there was enough evidence for the case to move forward.
Casper Police Detective Adrian White said Taylor drove to the medical center because he thought he was going to kill himself while high. Once there, he pushed open a security door in the back of the facility. Asked by Cole if the door was locked, White said, “No, not necessarily.”
After the hearing, hospital spokeswoman Kristy Bleizeffer was asked how a man on LSD could apparently enter through an unlocked security door without being detected. She said she could not comment, citing the open police investigation.
Bleizeffer said the “safety of our staff, physicians, patients and visitors remains our top priority.”
Bleizeffer and other hospital officials said after the incident last week that WMC would conduct a top-down review of its response. A spokeswoman previously said all doors but the ER entrance would’ve been locked at that hour and that Taylor would’ve had to call security to get in.
There are security guards within the hospital, though they are unarmed. The only metal detector in the building leads into the ER and is watched by the main guard station, though the device covers only half of the hallway.
It’s unclear how long Taylor was allegedly in the hospital before he was discovered by a housekeeper near a bank of elevators, White testified. Taylor allegedly asked the housekeeper, “What are you looking at,” before the employee ran and Taylor fired three shots. The housekeeper ran to a security desk and stayed there.
Taylor was next met by a physician who was leaving the doctors’ lounge, White said. Taylor was allegedly crouching by the elevators with the gun in his hand when the physician saw him, backed up and ran to the emergency department, which is near the radiology department that Taylor was said to be in. Taylor fired four shots after the doctor, White testified.
The first calls to police came in at 1:06 a.m. Taylor was eventually found in a tunnel beneath the hospital 20 minutes later. Police said he briefly attempted to escape before being tazed by officers. A 9 mm Springfield handgun was recovered and no one was injured.
The seven shots described by White matches a statement provided to the Star-Tribune by a witness who was in the ER at the time Taylor was allegedly in the hospital.
After he was tazed, Taylor was taken to the ER to be examined. He was then interviewed by police. He allegedly asked officers if he’d killed anyone. No, the police told him.
“That’s what I figured,” Taylor said, according to White’s testimony.
A search of his car, parked across the street from the hospital, turned up more 9 mm ammunition and a small amount of marijuana, White said. The detective told Cole that blood taken from Taylor had not been returned from the lab. Cole asked White if he thought Taylor was indeed impaired, from the detective’s experience as a police officer.
“He was high off of LSD,” White said.
As Cole asked White about the positioning of the handgun in Taylor’s hand, Taylor turned to the packed audience behind him, mouthed, “I’m f—-ed” twice and shook his head.
Cole asked Judge Steven Brown to lower Taylor’s $500,000 bond, given that Taylor had no prior criminal history and that the shooting at WMC was “the result of a bad acid trip.” Cole said a $25,000 bond was more appropriate.
Brown was unmoved and kept Taylor’s bond at $500,000. After the judge denied Cole’s request, Taylor audibly winced, twisted in his chair from side to side and pressed his fingers into his eyes. As he was led from the courtroom, he briefly turned back to the courtroom spectators before a sheriff’s deputy walked him out of the door.