A man fatally shot two Dallas hospital employees over the weekend after accusing his girlfriend who had just given birth of infidelity, authorities said.
Jacqueline Pokuaa, a 45-year-old social worker, and Katie Annette Flowers, a 63-year-old nurse, were killed in Saturday’s shooting at Methodist Dallas Medical Center, according to police and hospital officials.
Authorities have said Nestor Hernandez, 30, opened fire around 11 a.m. while at the hospital for the birth of a child by his girlfriend. Hernandez, who was on parole from prison and had been granted permission to be at the hospital while wearing an ankle monitor, was shot and wounded by a police officer, authorities said.
“In my opinion, this is a failure of our criminal justice system,” Dallas police Chief Eddie Garcia said at a news conference Monday. “A violent individual such as this should not have been on ankle monitor and should have remained in custody.”
Hernandez has been charged with capital murder but it wasn’t clear Monday if he has an attorney who could speak on his behalf. He wasn’t listed among people being held in the Dallas County jail and authorities said that, after the shooting, he was treated at Methodist and then taken to another medical faculty for further treatment.
CBS Dallas reports that local hospitals are ramping up security in light of the deadly shooting.
Staff members said they’d advocated for their safety and security well before this shooting, since violence against healthcare workers has been on the rise.
“Even before this incident I can assure you safety, safety to patients, safety for families, safety for staff is top of mind, top priority,” DFW Hospital Council President and CEO Stephen Love said.
Workplace violence has been a serious issue for hospitals since the pandemic.
“There’s still times when patients, patients families, visitors do get somewhat aggressive,” Love said. “This really got worse during the pandemic.”
A source who works inside Methodist Dallas told CBS Dallas she and other employees are concerned the hospital isn’t doing more to secure their safety. She pointed out that there are no visitor restrictions and no checking of people coming in and out of the hospital.
Hernandez arrived at the hospital around 10:20 a.m. to visit the woman in delivery and began to strike her repeatedly in the head with a handgun, Garcia said. According to an arrest warrant affidavit obtained by WFAA-TV, Hernandez started hitting his girlfriend after accusing her of infidelity.
Hernandez then started making “ominous” calls and sending text messages to his family, told his girlfriend that they were both going to die and said “whoever comes in this room is going to die with us,” according to the Dallas TV station’s account of the affidavit. He shot Pokuaa when she came into the room to attend to the woman, then shot Flowers after she looked in the room upon hearing gunfire, Garcia said.
Hospital police Sgt. Robert Rangel saw Flowers get shot, called for backup and took cover outside the room where Hernandez was reloading his gun, the chief said. When Hernandez emerged, Rangel shot him in the leg and, after a standoff, police took him into custody, Garcia said.
Garcia said the woman Hernandez struck was treated for her injuries and that a newborn child who was in the room wasn’t hurt.
Hernandez was released from prison on parole last October after having been convicted of aggravated robbery, according to Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokeswoman Amanda Hernandez. She said he was given permission to be with his “significant other” at the hospital during her delivery.
Authorities haven’t released any information on how Hernandez came to have a gun while on parole for a felony conviction. Methodist Medical System Police Chief Glen Fowler said Monday that the hospital wasn’t given any notice of his criminal history or that he was being tracked with an ankle monitor.
“That’s not something we normally inquire about for a parent,” Fowler said. “This is an extremely horrific, out-of-the-norm situation. I wish that we would have known, but that is not some information that was provided to us beforehand.”
Garcia said Hernandez was sentenced to eight years for aggravated robbery, serving six before he was released on parole last year. In March 2022, he was arrested for a parole violation, then in April released to his parole officer. In June, Garcia said, Hernandez was arrested by police in a Dallas suburb for another parole violation, taken to a county jail and then turned over to the custody of Texas prisons, which released him this September with the ankle monitor he was wearing during the shooting.
Dallas County records show that Nestor Hernandez has been arrested repeatedly since 2011, including on charges of aggravated robbery, burglary and the unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon.
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