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Delco Police Official Calls Mercy Hospital Shooting Suspect a ‘Powder Keg’

“A guy like Plotts has had all types of evaluations and there’s no doubt in my mind that shows this guy is a powder keg and the system is not equipped to deal with these individuals.” -- Michael Chitwood
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Brad Segall Brad Segall
Brad Segall is the award-winning Suburban Bureau chief at KYW...
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By Brad Segall and Walt Hunter

DARBY, Pa. (CBS) — Some law enforcement officials in Delaware County say they are very familiar with Richard Plotts, the man whom authorities say opened fire yesterday in a medical building at Mercy-Fitzgerald Hospital, killing a mental health caseworker.

Upper Darby police superintendent Michael Chitwood says their last contact with the 49-year-old man was in 2013.  He says Plotts has been “302’d,” or committed to a psychiatric hospital for evaluation, after trying to commit suicide numerous times.

Chitwood says Plotts also has an extensive criminal history in Philadelphia, dating back to the early ’90s, for gun violations, drugs, and assaults.

“Everybody knew he was a violent predator who had the potential to hurt other people,” Chitwood stated.

“When you look at a guy like this and you look at his violent history… he’s been barred from the Life Center, which is the shelter that feeds and supports people who are homeless and mentally ill,” Chitwood points out.

“This guy should not have been on the street, period,” Chitwood told CBS 3’s Walt Hunter.

Chitwood believes society is not equipped to handle violent people with mental illness, and he also questions how Plotts was able to get access to guns.

Police say Plotts killed his case worker and injured his doctor at Mercy-Fitzgerald before the doctor pulled a gun and shot Plotts.

Detectives late Friday afternoon searched the Clifton Heights apartment where Plotts lived looking for evidence in Thursday’s deadly shooting.

Among the evidence investigators sought at Plotts’ apartment were any additional weapons, ammunition, writings or postings that indicated he had planned the murder or planned an even wider path of violence.

After the shooting, prosecutors reveal they found dozens of additional bullets in his pockets and, they added, when he was wrestled to the ground he was trying to reload.

Investigators also are hoping to learn how Plotts, a convicted felon with serious mental health issues, was able to get his hands on the alleged murder weapon.

 

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