The 3 a.m. shooting appears to have stemmed from a brawl at a McColl, S.C. night club, according to Laurinburg police. Authorities say it involved the victim, his girlfriend and the daughter of the shooter just a few hours earlier.
Police arrested 49-year-old Wayne "Wolf" Simmons, of Bennettsville, S.C., in the parking lot of the Laurinburg hospital within moments of the shooting, charging him with attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon with the intent to kill, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and discharging a firearm into a medical facility, according to a police report.
The victim, 31-year-old Domario Covington, of Bennettsville, was admitted to the hospital earlier with lacerations to his face from the fight at Ellison Club on U.S. 401 in McColl, according to Capt. Kim Monroe.
With Covington was his girlfriend, Jessica Gillespie, who fought with Simmons' daughter, according to police.
Covington told hospital staff and police he was just a bystander to the fight.
When Simmons arrived at Scotland Memorial Hospital, he told hospital officials he was Covington's brother and was taken back to Covington's room where he fired several shots into Covington's chest, according to the report.
Covington ran from the room after being wounded while Simmons turned the gun on Gillespie.
Simmons attempted to fire at her, but the gun appeared to malfunction and would not discharge, according to Detective Chris Young. The detective said he was unsure why it would not fire, but the gun was loaded when it was recovered.
Simmons "wandered around the emergency center, looking for an exit, finally exiting from the x-ray area," according to a hospital spokeswoman Karen Gainey.
"The Scotland Memorial Hospital Emergency Center staff initially took cover, then immediately called 911 and the nursing supervisor once the suspect left their area," Gainey said. "The supervisor called the hospital units, alerting them. All units secured themselves and their patients."
Simmons then fled out a back entrance to the hospital, throwing his gun into a trash can, the report said. He was taken into custody by police in the parking lot and the gun was recovered.
Covington meanwhile left the emergency room through the front entrance of the emergency room while his nurse followed, according to Greg Wood, president and CEO of Scotland Healthcare System.
"Quite extraordinarily, his nurse went out the front door after just seeing the shooter and the victim getting shot where she calmed the victim down, got him on a stretcher and pulled him back into the emergency center for treatment," Woods said.
"Emergency center staff quickly returned to their patient care duties, including caring for the injured patient and later, the suspect himself," Gainey said. "We completely locked down the emergency center and the entire building allowing visitors to enter only after being wanded for weapons."
Simmons was also taken into the emergency room after his arrest, complaining of chest pains that were related to prior heart condition.
Both men have been moved to undisclosed hospitals for treatment, according to Young. Laurinburg police are still with Simmons while Covington is in critical but stable condition.
"He (Simmons) has yet to appear before the magistrate so he does not have a bond at this time," Young said. "Once he is medically cleared and released, that is when he will be taken to the Scotland County jail."
Several people who drove from South Carolina with Simmons were initially detained for questioning, but have since been released, according to Young.
Hospital administrators were pleased with the hasty response to the shooting.
"Both our staff and local law enforcement responded extraordinarily well," Woods said. "It was an extremely scary time for the emergency center staff but they also had an emergency center full of patients. Within a couple of minutes of knowing that the shooter himself had left the emergency center, they went back to taking care of patients."
"Emergency center staff and many other night shift staff responded heroically, yet it was obviously quite stressful for them," Gainey said. "We brought in a licensed professional counselor for them early this morning and have additional sessions scheduled for later in the week."
Scotland Health Care officials are also reevaluating the present security plan.
"We have an enormous amount of security measures in place on a regular basis as well as ones we put in place when a situation arises and all that went extremely well," Wood said. "Certainly we will reevaluate our systems and our policies to see if we can strengthen them, but clearly you can't guarantee that nothing like this will happen. We regret it and we are thankful that our patients and staff are all safe and we thank them for their response."
"The safety of our staff and patients are a major priority for us and we have many systems in place to minimize the likelihood of such a tragedy," Gainey said. "We have hired local law enforcement for the next few nights for the emergency center while we evaluate making more changes to create a safer environment."