The man who allegedly shot and killed a doctor Tuesday at the El Paso Veterans Affairs Health System’s clinic in Texas before turning the gun on himself has been identified as Army veteran and former employee Jerry Serrato, who had previously threatened the victim, Federal Bureau of Investigation officials told KTSM news station.
Serrato, 48, was working as a medical support technician at the Veterans Administration center in 2013 when he verbally threatened co-worker Timothy Fjordbak, a psychologist at the VA, according to the FBI. Fjordbak, 63, filed a complaint in October 2013 after the incident, which took place in a grocery store.
“Mr. Serrato approached Dr. Fjordbak, who did not recognize him, and he made a verbal threat,” FBI special agent Doug Lindquist told the Washington Post. He paraphrased the threat as “ ‘I know what you did and I will take care of that,’ something to that effect.” VA officials told the Washington Post Fjordbak and Serrato had no working relationship and the complaint is the only apparent connection between the two.
Authorities found Fjordbak dead Tuesday on the fourth floor of the VA clinic and Serrato on the third floor dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. Serrato, an El Paso resident, had served in the Army from 2006 to 2009 and was honorably discharged, FBI officials told KTSM.
The entire hospital complex, which includes the William Beaumont Army Medical Center and is located in Fort Bliss, was under lockdown after the shooting. The clinic remained closed Wednesday; it will be closed Thursday to patients, but open to staff and veterans for counseling, VA officials told KTSM.
The shooting was first reported at the WBAMC, which is attached to the VA clinic through a corridor. Traffic came to a halt Tuesday night as police closed off streets surrounding the complex and helicopters flew overhead, the El Paso Times reported.
The VA posted a statement on Facebook Tuesday night regarding the incident. “The Department of Veterans Affairs is deeply saddened by the tragic situation that has occurred in El Paso, and we are actively working with our partners at Fort Bliss to investigate this matter. We will continue to cooperate fully with military and civilian authorities at Beaumont Army Medical Center. The safety and continued care of our Veterans and the staff will be our focus throughout this situation.”
The VA clinic at Fort Bliss was one of several veterans’ clinics in the United States that were in the hot seat last year for inadequate care and long wait times. A report released June 2014 found more than 1,000 veterans may have died in the last decade due to malpractice or lack of care at VA clinics. The report was issued by Sen. Tom Coburn’s office after a CNN investigation in November 2013 found veterans were dying because of long waiting periods and delayed care at U.S. veteran hospitals.