Screaming about cigarettes, double amputee shoots doctor at VA Medical Center

Army veteran Larry Ray Bon charged after shooting at South Florida hospital

Police can be seen outside the West Palm Beach VA Medical Center after a shooting, Feb. 27, 2019, in Riviera Beach, Florida.
Police can be seen outside the West Palm Beach VA Medical Center after a shooting, Feb. 27, 2019, in Riviera Beach, Florida.

RIVIERA BEACH, Fla. – Screaming about cigarettes, a double amputee U.S. Army veteran shot and wounded a doctor at a South Florida veterans' hospital just before a mental health evaluation, authorities said.

Larry Ran Bon, 59, of Michigan, arrived Wednesday at the West Palm Beach VA Medical Center after his personal physician admitted him to the emergency room for a mental health evaluation under Florida's Baker Act, according to a federal criminal complaint released Thursday.

According to the complaint, two doctors were sitting at their desks about 6:30 p.m. when a hospital technician screamed that someone had a gun. Then, both doctors heard three shots.

One doctor noticed a patient, later identified as Bon, on a scooter and holding a handgun, screaming about cigarettes, the complaint said.

The doctor told Bon there were cigarettes behind him in an attempt to distract Bon and get him to turn away. That's when the doctor charged at Bon in an attempt to disarm him, the complaint said.

During the struggle, Bon fired three more shots, one of which struck the doctor in the neck, the complaint said.

Eventually, the doctor was able to pry the gun away from Bon, and it wound up in the hands of the other doctor, the complaint said. As Bon crawled toward her, she held the gun over her head and used a chair to protect herself from him before tossing it away.

While Bon continued attacking the other doctor, a nurse grabbed the gun off the ground and a patient came to the aid of the doctor, helping to pin Bon against the wall until authorities arrived, the complaint said.

A second employee was struck in the buttocks during the shooting.

Bon, who has had both his legs amputated and uses an electric wheelchair, served in the Army in the 1970s, but investigators were not aware of him having any combat-related conditions, FBI Assistant Special Agent Justin Fleck said.

Nancy Bon said her son's mental health suffered after he contracted spinal meningitis at age 8. She said he was honorably discharged from the Army after contracting pneumonia during basic training. 

One leg was amputated after an infection, and the other was amputated 15 years ago after a car accident, she said.

Bon is charged with one count of assaulting certain officers or employees.

According to online court records, Bon's only history in Palm Beach County's legal system was a case in small claims court in 2017 that was dismissed. His name did not appear in county jail records.

The doctor, whose name hasn't been released, was treated and released at a West Palm Beach hospital.