MPD investigates gunman case at Children’s Hospital

The Milwaukee Police Department is still investigating the shooting of a gunman resulting in a two-hour lockdown at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin Thursday, a location where many Marquette students perform clinical rotations.

The gunman was identified as 22-year-old Ashanti Hendricks, whose girlfriend and baby were being cared for in the neonatal unit on the seventh floor of the building. Hendricks was shot in the wrist while he was trying to flee from MPD officers.

Crissy Garcia, a senior in the College of Nursing, was working near the unit when the shooting occurred.

“Many people have been voicing their opinions on the event that occurred, but what they don’t understand is what it feels like to be in the presence of an armed person at the moment,” Garcia said in an email. “Carrying a weapon inside of a hospital is a felony, and people don’t know the background behind a story unless you are there firsthand. I have yet to hear the true series of events being portrayed clearly on the news, which is frustrating because viewers only get the skewed version.”

Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke said in a news conference Thursday that a call came in to his department at around noon of an active shooter.

“Milwaukee police officers were (at the hospital) conducting a warrant pickup of a guy who they got information was wanted on a warrant for felony possession of a firearm and was here at the hospital,” Clarke said in the news conference. “They proceeded to the neonatal unit, the seventh floor of Children’s Hospital. It’s where sick infants and children are taken care of.”

Clarke said officers identified the man who was holding a baby at the time and informed Hendricks he was under arrest. Hendricks put the baby down and fled.

Clarke also confirmed officers recovered Hendricks’ handgun, and the mother and her baby are fine.

MPD’s Critical Incident Review Board is conducting an after-action evaluation of how it handled the situation that could possibly result in changes in policy and procedure. The Children’s Hospital is also reviewing its own policies in the wake of the shooting.

Garcia said she believes the situation was handled properly considering the circumstances.

“Could things have happened differently?” Garcia said. “Maybe, but who is to say. It is not like we have time to sit down and ponder these things when someone is armed around innocent children families and employees.”

Hendricks has multiple felony convictions, mostly for drugs, dating back to 2009, according to court records. He was convicted on drug charges twice in 2009 and again in 2011.

In December 2012, he was charged again with possession of marijuana, second offense, fleeing an officer and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Hendricks pled guilty to the gun charge in September and was supposed to be sentenced two weeks ago. When he failed to appear for his hearing, a warrant was issued for his arrest.

While police investigate the possible causes of the incident, Garcia said events like the one at the hospital can happen when parents react to having a sick child.

“At any moment, a frustrated parent can react to the everyday stressors that come along with having a sick child, and as a staff member who spends a lot of time at the bedside of my patients in the presence of stressed family, it is important to me to feel secure and safe in my work environment,” Garcia said. “Every person responds to stress differently and can take it out on different people. No one ever knows what could be a result of that stress and no one knows when the stress reaction will occur, and that is why it is important to take every safety precaution possible.”

“I am proud of how the Children’s staff reacted to what happened, and think that the organization as a whole did and continue to do everything possible to put patient safety first,” Garcia continued. “In the end, the only person who got hurt was the person breaking the law, and in my opinion, that is the success story.” 

Hendricks is now in the custody of MPD after being treated for his injuries at Froedtert Hospital, and is in Milwaukee County Jail pending further investigation.