A patient in the Northumberland Hills Hospital thought someone had dropped something when she heard the first “bang” in the emergency room – but when the noise continued, she quickly realized something was wrong.
Ontario’s police watchdog said an elderly couple is dead after a police-involved shooting late Friday night at a hospital in Cobourg, Ont., about 100 kilometres east of Toronto.
The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) said it’s investigating the death of a 70-year-old man, and provincial police are investigating the death of a 76-year-old woman at the hospital.
Around 11:00 p.m., SIU spokesperson Jason Gennaro said police were called to the scene after receiving reports that shots had been fired in the triage room where both members of the couple were lying side by side on gurneys, after being admitted to the hospital for unspecified ailments.
Gennaro confirmed the couple was married and lived within an hour of the hospital.
“It was like if you had a big glass bowl and it went ‘crash,’” a woman who had been in the hospital overnight and witnessed the incident told Global News. “But then you heard another one and you realize when the nurse is shouting, ‘Everyone stay in your room,’ you realize something is going on.”
WATCH: Aftermath of police-involved shooting inside Cobourg hospital emergency room
The woman said she started to shake and cry when she realized everything was happening right beside her.
“There wasn’t much protection, just a screen — a curtain,” she said, adding that she heard three shots at first and maybe four later on.
The woman, who was leaving the hospital with her husband at the time of the interview, said no one would give them any more information.
Gennaro said when police responded, two officers entered the room where they found the woman dead with a head wound.
He said the officers discharged their firearms after an interaction with the man, who was hit and pronounced dead at the scene.
Ontario Provincial Police confirmed they were investigating the circumstances surrounding the woman’s death but would not provide further comment at this time.
Emergency patients were directed to neighbouring hospitals for several hours before the facility resumed its regular operations at around 9:30 on Saturday morning.
“I want to thank our staff, physicians, security and our local police services for their fast and professional response,” hospital President Linda Davis said in a statement. “NHH’s Employee Assistance Provider has been on site through the night providing support. We recognize incidents such as this have a significant emotional impact on our team and we will continue to provide support as long as necessary.”
Davis said in a written statement posted to the hospital website that hospital staff are trained in how to handle “weapon-related situations.”
“While we hope that we never need to use this training, it proved very beneficial tonight,” she said.
The SIU is automatically called in to investigate reports of death, serious injury or allegations of sexual assault involving police.
—With files from Erica Vella and the Canadian Press