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Pittsburgh hospitals endured violent episodes in past

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Friday, March 9, 2012

John Flajnik has firsthand experience in dealing with hospital violence.

A gunman fatally shot a hospital caseworker and then held Flajnik and his wife and daughter hostage inside the former St. Francis Health Center in Lawrenceville for about 90 minutes one night in February 1988.

"It seems like such a long, long time ago," said Flajnik, 73, of Plum. "Every once in a while someone will mention it, but other than that I don't think about it much."

Edith Anderson, then 31, was convicted of third-degree murder while mentally ill in the shooting death of hospital caseworker Linda Rosen, 27, of Squirrel Hill. Anderson barricaded herself in a bathroom in the psychiatric emergency room after the shooting, with the door ajar and a weapon drawn on Flajnik, his wife, Bernadette, and daughter Linda.

Anderson was sentenced to 23 12 to 47 years behind bars. She remains in prison.

"I feel so lucky that none of my family got hurt," Flajnik said.

Some other local hospital shooting incidents:

-- Off-duty Pittsburgh police Officer Joseph Benz shot Paaron Jones, 22, in the head during a June 1981 altercation at West Penn Hospital in Bloomfield. Jones of Bloomfield remained hospitalized for four years before dying of pneumonia shortly after being released. Benz was cleared of charges of voluntary and involuntary manslaughter.

-- In June 1989, Daniel Hannan, then 30, of East Liberty shot a St. Francis Medical Center billing clerk in the leg and then surrendered. Police said he was upset about a hospital bill. He later pleaded guilty to aggravated assault, reckless endangerment, making terroristic threats and other charges and was sentenced to up to 20 years of probation, court records show.

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