Houston, TX – Officials are hailing a technician at Ben Taub Hospital as a hero for intervening on Thursday to help a sheriff’s deputy after she heard gunfire erupt in a bathroom.
The incident occurred on July 22 when a Harris County sheriff’s deputy was escorting an inmate to the hospital for a medical visit, KTRK reported.
Nurse manager Gina Shanker said she was at work in the clinic on the 5th Floor of the hospital when she heard noises coming from the men’s room near her office.
“Pretty much steps from my office when we heard the commotion, and later on, gunshots,” Shanker told KTRK.
Investigators later said that Shanker was hearing the struggle that occurred between a sheriff’s deputy and inmate Thaddeus Lewis.
Police said Lewis managed to get ahold of the deputy’s service weapon and shot him, KTRK reported.
The deputy was shot in the left hand.
Shanker said that was when the hospital technician, who wished to remain anonymous, jumped in to help the deputy, KTRK reported.
“She was on her way home towards the end of the clinic,” the nurse manager explained. “That’s when she heard somebody asking for help – yelling for help – in the men’s restroom.”
Shanker said the technician ran into the men’s room to help the deputy without pause, KTRK reported.
“I could not imagine how brave she was,” she said. “The thing that came into her mind was, ‘I need to help. I need to help the officer.'”
Shanker said it was the first incident of its kind to occur in the 33 years she’s worked at Ben Taub Hospital, KTRK reported.
“It was scary and I kept on telling her ‘Come out! Come out of the restroom!’ and she was still trying to talk to the inmate,” she said.
Hospital officials called a “Code White” – the signal used during an active shooter situation – and visitors and staff took shelter or sheltered in place, KPRC reported.
“Of course we reacted real fast and quick, everybody knew to turn the lights off. We went in a room where you have to have a code to get in,” a hospital staff member who was there said.
Houston police said several hospital employees helped the deputy take Lewis down and, ultimately, into custody, KPRC reported.
The scene was cleared about 20 minutes after the gunshot and lockdown in the building was lifted.
“As our deputy was struggling with this inmate, we had four hospital personnel who did come to assist and they actually did help get the inmate into custody, so I’d like to commend them for helping us out today,” Harris County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Edison Toquica said.
The wounded deputy, a 36-year veteran of the sheriff’s department, was treated for his gunshot wound at the hospital and released to recover at home, KTRK reported.
Police said that nobody else was injured during the incident, KPRC reported.
Officials Lewis was already in custody on drug charges and gun charges when he shot the deputy.
He has so far been charged with aggravated assault of a public servant for the latest incident, KTRK reported.
Houston police were heading up the investigation into the deputy-involved shooting and said the agency would work with the Harris County District Attorney’s Office to bring additional charges against Lewis.
Eric Batton, the first vice president of the Harris County Deputies Organization, said it was another example of the dangers faced by law enforcement officers, KTRK reported.
“It just shows we’re always facing danger,” Batton said. “No matter what the situation is, whether it’s escorting someone, or making a traffic stop or a domestic violence call.”