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Norfolk Man shoots self at Massena hospital entrance

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MASSENA — A 48-year-old man entered a vestibule at the Massena Memorial Hospital emergency room entrance at 6:20 a.m. Saturday and fatally shot himself in the chest with a 20-gauge shotgun, according to Massena village police.

Police said Roger J. Wolfe Jr., 135 Adams Road, Norfolk, entered through the unlocked glass sliding doors in the area where rescue squads unload their patients, stood in the vestibule outside the locked doors to the emergency room, placed the shotgun against his body and fired one round into his chest.

Village Police Chief Timmy J. Currier said it was the third suicide in the village in the past three weeks, and he said there appeared to be a common denominator.

“We’re seeing a trend here related to prescription-drug abuse,” Mr. Currier said.

Mr. Currier said hospital personnel immediately administered medical care to Mr. Wolfe, who was pronounced dead later Saturday morning.

Mr. Currier said Mr. Wolfe had been taken to Massena Memorial Hospital by the Norfolk Rescue Squad earlier Saturday after being involved in a motor vehicle crash in the Norwood area. He was treated and released to a family member at 4:30 a.m.

Mr. Currier said that when Mr. Wolfe returned to the hospital, he had no contact with staff or patients before turning the gun on himself. “I fully reviewed all of the hospital’s surveillance video. No hospital employees or patients were in jeopardy or danger,” he said.

It marked the second suicide last week in the village. Mr. Currier said the public nature of the two most recent incidents — the other taking place as police were responding to reports of a despondent male running through yards with a gun — has brought something that is typically handled relatively privately by police into the public eye.

He also said three suicides in Massena in three weeks has been unprecedented during his nearly two decades at the helm of the Police Department.

No other year from 1993 to 2010 has had more suicides, Mr. Currier said. Village police responded to three suicides each in 2008 and 2007. There was one suicide in each of the past two years, and none in 2006.

Massena Memorial Hospital spokeswoman Tina R. Corcoran said the hospital will review its security policy as a result of Saturday’s incident. She said it was her belief that it was the first shooting at the hospital.

“As soon as the incident occurred, the hospital was locked down, and there was a diversion plan in place for a short period of time,” Mrs. Corcoran said.

She had high praise Saturday for the response of hospital staff.

“It’s hard when you witness something like this. Their response was amazing. A lot of people responded this morning. Our ER staff, our operating room staff responded immediately,” she said, noting that an emergency room physician and two surgeons led the response effort.

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