Police: Doctor threatened to shoot colleague he believed was a 'terrorist'
JACKSONVILLE, TX (KLTV) -
A former East Texas Medical Center doctor was arrested on Wednesday in Jacksonville after hospital administrators deemed that the man was a security risk.
According to Jacksonville Police Department Sgt. Jason Price, Dr. Laurence Cunningham, 57, was arrested without incident by Jacksonville police after ETMC administrators called police when Cunningham showed up at the hospital on Wednesday morning.
"Frustrated anxiety would be the way I would describe his demeanor, he kept reiterating that he was apparently having problems with a doctor at the hospital who he insisted was a terrorist," said Sgt. Price.
Jacksonville police say that Cunningham, who was fired from the hospital yesterday, made threats against hospital staff as recently as a few days ago. Those threats and his presence at the hospital today prompted administrators to call police.
Price says that Cunningham made threatening comments towards a doctor of Middle Eastern descent who Cunningham allegedly accused of being happy about the September 11 terrorist attacks and the Boston Marathon bombings.
According to police, Cunningham threatened that if the other doctor wasn't investigated for being a terrorist, he would come up to the hospital with his gun and shoot the man.
"He basically gave an ultimatum to the hospital: If you guys don't do something about this, I'm going to bring a gun up and shoot him," Sgt. Price said.
"I didn't think he would do stuff like that really, he was a nice doctor to me. I didn't think he would snap off like that," said Reginald Beck, one of Cunningham's former patients.
Beck and others who live next to the hospital say they don't believe anyone at ETMC is involved with terrorists.
"All of this terroristic stuff that's going on, you know, I don't think Cunningham wanted him in his office," said Shila Nugent, who visits the hospital often.
Officials spoke with ETMC about the accusations.
"We've talked to hospital administration, they have no concerns or beliefs that this is in fact the case," Sgt. Price said.
Cunningham was arrested on public intoxication and terroristic threat charges. He is being held in the Jacksonville City Jail until his arraignment on Thursday morning when he will be transported to the Cherokee County Jail.
Police say there was a firearm in Cunningham's vehicle.
Cunningham graduated from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine in 1982. He was issued his medical license in 1985. His primary practice location was the ETMC - Jacksonville campus where he practiced pulmonary medicine. Cunningham has a previous conviction for DUI in Smith County from November 2001.