St. James Healthcare

St. James Healthcare went on lockdown Thursday evening due to a suicidal female armed with a handgun.

Police say the woman who caused portions of St. James Healthcare to go on lockdown Thursday night threatened to shoot herself, police, and a hospital employee during a more than two-hour standoff.

Butte-Silver Bow Sheriff Ed Lester said Friday police were dispatched to the Clark Street hospital around 5:30 p.m. after the woman, a 49-year-old female, had entered a northwest office on the building’s second floor.

Unaware of the woman’s presence, Lester said, a staff member entered the office, whereupon the 49-year-old threatened the staff member with a semi-automatic .45-caliber pistol. The staff member left the room and shut the door, and police were contacted.

While waiting for police to arrive, the hospital’s president spoke with the woman through the door, Lester said.

First responders included three tactical officers and a negotiator, who spoke with the 49-year-old through a ballistic shield positioned in front of the office door.

At that time, Lester said, the woman threatened to shoot herself, periodically opening the office door with the gun positioned either to her chin or head, and also threatened to shoot officers if they entered. At one point, the sheriff added, she slid a suicide note under the door.

As she spoke with police, the woman said she was drowsy and appeared to be under the influence of some sort of substance, Lester said. She fell asleep several times inside the room, the sheriff added, and a few times dropped the gun as she dozed off.

The incident came to a close when the woman came out of the room partway through the threshold of the door.

She held the gun butt-first toward the officer she was speaking with, Lester said, but put the gun behind her back when the officer reached for it. A second officer, however, was able to get behind the woman and take the gun from her hands.

The incident concluded around 8:30, Lester said, and the woman was admitted to the hospital to receive treatment for whatever substance she had ingested. She hasn’t been arrested, the sheriff said, but police will most likely charge her with criminal endangerment once she’s medically cleared, among other charges.

Lester noted that the hospital was able to continue to accept patients throughout the incident because the office where the woman was held up was in an isolated part of the building away from patients and police were able to position themselves so that the woman could not escape.

“When you talk about a hospital where inside the building there’s an armed standoff occurring and the hospital is still able to take emergency patients and function normally, it was a pretty good effort on part of the hospital staff to keep on doing the things they needed to do to keep the hospital open,” Lester said.

“When everybody walks away safely, that’s a success,” he added.

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