THREE hospitalized after shootings, stabbing at Buffalo VA hospital; suspect in custody

Saturday, August 18th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) _ A former patient shot two people and stabbed a third at a Veterans Affairs hospital, before a volunteer van driver wrestled the rifle away from the gunman, police said.

The suspect was apprehended at his Buffalo home soon after the attack Friday. The FBI identified him as Samuel Miles Bobo, a 39-year-old Army veteran.

Two victims remained in stable condition Saturday and a third was expected to be discharged, said Arlene Kelly, a spokeswoman at the Department of Veterans Affairs Western New York Healthcare System, where the attack occurred.

Bobo was arraigned on charges of assault with intent to murder a federal employee and assault with a dangerous weapon with intent to do bodily harm. He was ordered held pending another hearing Aug. 23.

``He randomly started shooting and stabbing people,'' Kelly said.

The attack started when Bobo pulled into a parking lot headed in the wrong direction, authorities said. When the parking lot attendant objected, Bobo pulled out a rifle and shot the attendant, Gary Muck, said Michael Hughes, a spokesman for Rural Metro Ambulance.

The suspect then entered the hospital. Inside the building, van driver Mann Pollock Jr. tried to stop him, FBI special agent Peter Ahearn said. Pollock was shot and stabbed, but was able to wrestle away the gun, Ahearn said. Bobo then allegedly stabbed file clerk John Skyler. Pollock was expected to be released from the hospital Saturday.

The suspect left the hospital, got back into his car and drove away. Muck, who was being treated outside, saw the suspect flee and asked a nurse to write down the car's license plate number.

While authorities were tracing the number, Bobo called 911 and said he was suicidal, Ahearn said. When they arrived at his home, a few blocks from the hospital, Bobo answered his door and was arrested.

A bag containing 50 to 100 rounds of live ammunition was taken from the home, Ahearn said.

Bobo was discharged from the Army in March 1988, though other details were not immediately available. Ahearn, citing patient confidentiality, would not disclose when Bobo was a patient at the hospital or what he was treated for. A law enforcement source said Bobo was a psychiatric patient.

Bobo, who served as a clerk in the Army, is a divorced single father of an 8-year-old son.

Former neighbor Diane Bronaugh described him as an attentive father. ``He was very quiet, friendly to me. He took care of his son pretty well,'' she said.

But neighbor Darwin Phillips told The Buffalo News that Bobo may have been troubled.

He ``has a certain eeriness about him as if there was something on his mind,'' Phillips said.

The 11-story VA hospital is a 167-bed facility that was nearly full Friday, Kelly said. The hospital continued to operate following the violence, though some ambulances were diverted to other hospitals' emergency rooms.