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An Update on the June 9, 2020 University Hospital Police Response

The following was sent to the Stony Brook Medicine Community from Kenneth Kaushansky, MD, Senior VP, Health Sciences and Dean, School of Medicine; Carol A. Gomes, Chief Executive Officer and Chief Operating Officer, Stony Brook Medicine and Robert J. Lenahan, Chief of Police, AVP for Campus Safety, Stony Brook University

Dear Colleagues,

We are writing to acknowledge the response and the expressed concerns received from the medicine campus community about the critically dangerous incident that transpired outside of the Emergency Department (ED) on Tuesday evening, June 9. We also want to reassure the community that, over the past three years, we have taken extraordinary steps to strengthen safety and security measures on behalf of our students, our clinical staff, and all hospital employees. These efforts significantly aided in our response to this incident. Below is a summary of what led to the arrest of the individual who entered our Hospital ED waiting room.

On the evening of June 9, an individual entered the University Hospital ED waiting room to visit a patient in the ED. Upon being declined access to the patient area due to COVID visitation restrictions, the individual went into the public restroom in the ED waiting area. At that time, an EMT assigned to the ED for triage services conveyed to the ED security officer that he felt the individual, who was wearing what is now known to be a tactical vest, looked suspicious. At approximately 8:55 PM the hospital security office called the University Police. Responding UPD officers located the suspect at approximately 9:00PM and he was immediately removed to the exterior roadway and taken into custody.

While searching the suspect, a BB gun was recovered, and UPD officers observed a suspicious-looking device within a backpack he was carrying. The Suffolk County Police Emergency Services Section was immediately called in, and a safety zone perimeter, consistent with established policing protocols, was immediately put in place. This included roadway closures as well as the evacuation of specific internal areas of Levels 4 and 5 of the Hospital.

Upon arrival, the Suffolk County Emergency Services Section reviewed the established safety zone perimeter and deemed it to be appropriate. In addition, University Police along with SCPD were posted to strategic locations to maintain the safety zone perimeter and Hospital Security personnel were positioned within Levels 4 and 5 to ensure individuals did not enter the secured zone. The Suffolk County Emergency Services Section began examining the bag and its contents, and determined it safe for transportation to an off-site location for additional analysis and examination. Following the removal of the device, Suffolk County Emergency Service Section Bomb Squad and Canine Unit officers swept the Hospital ED waiting room area — the only area determined via closed circuit video to have been accessed by the suspect — with an all clear result.

At 10:30PM on June 10, SCPD released information that indicated the suspect possessed three operable explosive devices in his backpack. Suffolk Police also reported that they executed a search warrant of his residence and subsequently recovered additional devices.

During this incident, SB Alert text messages and email messages were sent to the campus community, in addition to social media postings, providing the best available information at the time.

There are different types of communication options for such emergencies, however, it was determined that additional methods of communication, such as using the overhead address system to indicate a suspected bomb threat, may have caused detrimental panic resulting in additional safety vulnerabilities to our Hospital staff who were secured outside the established safety zone perimeter.

Although this is an extremely troubling incident that came to a successful outcome, senior leadership remains committed to improving security within the University Hospital. In fact, numerous improvements and significant investment have been  made in Hospital security infrastructure over the past three years, including:

  • Software upgrades to all camera systems
  • Installation of cameras throughout the Emergency Department
  • Installation of cameras within the Emergency Department waiting room
  • Installation of panic devices at strategic locations
  • Installation of cameras in exterior locations

We have made these improvements, but we won’t stop there. We will continue to explore additional opportunities to maintain a safe and secure environment for our employees, for our patients and for the community.

We want to express our tremendous gratitude to the EMT who followed his instincts and alerted security personnel, and our responders and investigators in the University Police Department, Suffolk County Police Arson Section detectives, Suffolk County Emergency Service Section Bomb Squad and Canine Unit officers, and the Federal Bureau of Investigations. Finally, our deepest gratitude to the dedicated faculty and staff who coordinated a safe and effective evacuation and for keeping our patients and staff out of harm’s way.

Press Contacts:

Lauren Sheprow: 631 252-4812

Kali Chan: 631 487-4092

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