CAMC patient shot dead in ICU
By Kathryn Gregory
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A woman is charged with first-degree murder after she walked into CAMC Memorial Hospital Saturday and allegedly shot her estranged husband dead in the third-floor intensive care unit.
Police say Rhonda Kay Stewart, 53, of Elkview walked into her husband's room with a handgun and shot him in the head sometime before 2 p.m.
Sammy Lee Stewart was pronounced dead around 2:30 p.m., said Detective Autumn Davis with the Charleston Police Criminal Investigation Division.
According to a criminal complaint, Rhonda Stewart went to visit her husband Saturday. An argument broke out, and hospital staff asked Stewart to leave.
A short time later, she went back to the hospital, entered his room and shot him, the complaint said.
Then she walked out of the room and handed the pistol to a doctor.
Police arrested Rhonda Stewart within minutes of the shooting. They led her away from the hospital in handcuffs.
Police said she waived her Miranda rights and admitted to shooting her husband.
Davis said investigators had not pinpointed a motive for the killing as of Saturday afternoon.
Stewart was questioned for about four hours at Charleston Police headquarters.
Then, police led her in handcuffs across the street to Magistrate Court to be arraigned.
She covered her face with tissues and was crying uncontrollably.
"I'm so sorry," she said to reporters. "Oh God, oh God, oh God."
As of Saturday night, Stewart was being held at South Central Regional Jail in Charleston without bail.
Chaos in the ICU
Earlier Saturday afternoon, several police cruisers sat outside the main entrance of the hospital and police were seen carrying rifles in the hospital.
Adam Webb was in the emergency room on the first floor with his father when he saw the police rush into the building with guns drawn.
"I could hear them screaming," he said.
Angie Eggleton of Hurricane was visiting her grandmother on the third floor, just a few rooms down from where the shooting happened.
"We heard a really loud pop," she said. "It scared us, but we didn't think anything of it."
Eggleton said she thought a balloon might have popped, and poked her head out the door into the hallway.
She saw a woman come out of a room a few doors down and collapse against the wall sobbing.
A nurse ran by and told everyone to get out of the wing, and another nurse was on the phone, she said.
Eggleton and her family went down to the lobby as police rushed into the building.
Eggleton's mother, Suzanne Eggleton, was in the lobby when the shooting occurred.
Before the shooting, she said she saw the suspected shooter leave the ICU in tears. At the time, she thought the woman might have just learned a family member was dying.
"She was just breaking down something awful," Suzanne Eggleton said.
After the shooting, she saw that same woman being led out of the hospital by police.
"Her head was down and she was just crying," she said.
Both mother and daughter say that after the shooting, a young pregnant woman came into the lobby and apologized.
"She said she was so sorry," Suzanne Eggleton said.
CAMC spokesman Dale Witte did not return several phone calls seeking comment, but released the following statement:
"This is an unfortunate and tragic event. CAMC is cooperating fully with Charleston Police. CAMC will not be making any further statements regarding this situation."
Angie Eggleton said hospital staff and police were not allowing people onto the third floor, but traffic continued to come in and out of the hospital after the shooting.
"They need someone watching the door or something or a metal detector," Suzanne Eggleton said.
"It's the last thing you ever think will happen," Angie Eggleton said.
Reach Kathryn Gregory at kathr...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5119. Reach Veronica Nett at veroni...@wvgazette.com or 304.348-5113.