Police: Man Kills Elderly Mother at DHMC Before Being Apprehended

By Tim Camerato

Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 09-13-2017 9:04 AM

Lebanon — Police apprehended a Warwick, R.I., man on Tuesday afternoon and alleged he killed his 70-year-old mother inside one of Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center’s intensive care units, an incident that forced the medical center to evacuate its thousands of employees and many of their patients.

Travis Frink, 49, will be arraigned Wednesday in Grafton Superior Court for the first-degree murder of Pamela Ferriere, of Groton, N.H.

Investigators said he signed into the hospital’s visitor’s desk around 1:15 p.m. before making his way to the ICU on the fourth floor. About 10 minutes later, Lebanon police received a 911 call reporting shots fired.

“Facts gathered to this point reveal that the purpose of Mr. Frink’s visit to the hospital today was to kill his mother,” New Hampshire Attorney General Gordon MacDonald said during a Tuesday night news conference outside of the Lebanon Police Department. “The crime scene is still being investigated, but I can report that more than one shot was fired.”

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MacDonald said no other patients, visitors or staff were injured in the shooting. He didn’t answer questions about how Frink was allowed into the hospital with a gun or what his motive might have been.

Lebanon Police Chief Richard Mello called the incident a “tragedy that struck the city of Lebanon,” and said the “overwhelming response of probably over 100 police officers” led to Frink’s arrest shortly after the shooting on Tuesday afternoon.

Tuesday’s shooting incident put DHMC and surrounding streets on lockdown for several hours, beginning around 2 p.m., when administrators sent an alert to employees warning them to shelter in place.

Staff and patients in some areas of the hospital also were evacuated to DHMC’s administration buildings on the opposite side of Mount Support Road.

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Inside the hospital, witnesses said doctors and nurses knocked on doors to inform their patients and colleagues of the incident. At first telling them to stay put, and then to leave, if they could.

Jean Fay, a cardio technician at the hospital, said she was in the middle of an exam and didn’t hear an alarm.

“Someone knocked on the door and said, ‘There’s an active shooter and you need to get out now,’ ” Fay said.

She quickly got her patient dressed and assisted in walking him to Mount Support Road, where she was picked up by her husband.

“I saw nothing,” she said. “All I know is that I’ve worked here for 33 years and this is the first time anything like this has happened.”

Hospital officials sent an internal email to staff around 2:30 p.m., saying armed officers were sweeping the campus.

“We believe the active shooter is still in the building, but is contained,” said the email from Michele Scearbo, who works as an office manager at the hospital. “Police are looking for a male, 6 feet, 1-inch tall, with salt and pepper blonde hair and wearing a red camouflage shirt. He is believed to be carrying a camouflage backpack as well.”

Police apprehended a suspect shortly before 3 p.m., and witnesses said officers pulled a man out of a silver Ford Escape at the corner of Lahaye Drive and Mount Support Road, the main road into the hospital from Route 120. The man was then taken away in a police cruiser.

Hanover High School was locked down as a precaution, according to Principal Justin Campbell. Lebanon High School, the Hanover Street School, the Carter Community Building Association and portions of the Centerra Resource Park also were put on lockdown for portions of the day.

Dartmouth College’s Hanover campus was not put on lockdown, according to its Twitter account. However, the college was offering counseling services to any students who needed them on Tuesday night.

MacDonald said the incident was over by 5 p.m., adding there was no threat to the public. The hospital also tweeted around 5:45 p.m. that its main campus was “clear” and had been reopened, and that staff members could return to the hospital.

Officers and firefighters from communities in both New Hampshire and Vermont responded to the hospital, Mello said.

“These incidents are truly tragic and unfortunate, but this is why we train for the things that we train for and this is why we put the resources into the things that we prepare for,” he said. “Today was a true test.”

Lebanon police officers participated in active shooter drills at the hospital as recently as 2014. The hospital’s staff also has trained for active shooter situations, said Dr. Joanne Conroy, CEO and president of Dartmouth-Hitchcock.

“Today was an incredibly stressful day and a tragic day for the affected family,” Conroy said during the news conference on Tuesday night.

“People did exactly what we instructed them to do and we had the best possible outcome from this. Nobody else was hurt in the organization, and that’s all we can ask for,” she said.

“The Lebanon campus is safe. We will, of course, debrief over the next week to better understand how we could improve our preparation and response,” Conroy wrote in a statement to hospital employees on Tuesday night.

She will be hosting a town hall style meeting on Wednesday for employees beginning at noon in Auditorium E, the statement said. Overflow seating will also be available in auditoriums E and F.

Tim Camerato can be reached at tcamerato@vnews.com or 603-727-3223.


This story was published in the Sept. 13 edition of the Valley News. This article was originally published online Sept. 12 at 2:20 p.m. and was updated throughout the afternoon.