Shotgun Trauma: Whodunit?


It was about 5:30 am when the 'Bat Phone' rang. The phone itself was red with photographs of a gun and knife taped to the handset. It was our direct line of communication to an emergency dispatch center… “Baylor, 28 year old male, multiple gunshot wounds, Code 1, Priority 4, five minutes out”, said Biotel.

A five-minute ‘heads up’ was a blessing.

Our patient arrived alive. Oxygen, fluid resuscitation, blood and diagnostics were all being done simultaneously. He was shot with was not just a simple handgun but, a shotgun. A shotgun typically uses a ‘shell’ and when fired, shoots a number of pellets which is why his chest and abdominal x-rays looked like stars in the night sky - almost too many pellets to count from the multiple shots. His injuries were devastating and he was drifting in and out of consciousness. The ER doc told me that he would not survive.

Suddenly it seemed as though everyone lost interest in this case and I was left alone, in the trauma room with a man who was my age and who would most likely die soon. I maintained his blood pressure (and consciousness) with blood transfusions and oxygen until the surgeons arrived to evaluate him. I don’t remember his name but for the purposes of this story, I’ll call him “Lonnie”.

The police officer investigating the call told me that when Lonnie left for work that morning, someone was waiting for him, across the street, with a shotgun.

There were at least twenty distraught family members and friends in the ER waiting room and as I didn’t know how much longer he would maintain consciousness, it was critical to me that family be given the opportunity to be with him. The doctor had already explained the gravity of the situation and they were obviously heartbroken. I asked if two people would like to come see him and his parents came forward immediately. When they were at Lonnie’s bedside they told him to “be strong” and that they loved him. He nodded. Over a short period of time, all of his friends and family came into the trauma room. They prayed for him, told him they loved him and offered words of encouragement.

Lonnie and I were alone again when he weakly asked me to get his wife. I stepped out, into the waiting room, and asked for her. Someone pointed to the woman sitting in the corner, overwhelmed in grief, staring into space and rocking herself in her chair. She was in her nightgown, still wearing pink haircurlers. Knowing that this would be her last time to be with him, I took her hand and said “come with me”.

When we walked into his room, she stood beside him and continued to stare, tears streaming down her face. She didn’t speak a word and barely moved. Lonnie tenderly told her that he loved her. Standing almost stone-like, she did not respond. After a few minutes I brought her back out to the waiting room where she was comforted by her friends and family.

Lonnie died later that morning.

A few weeks later, while out shopping, I saw someone I knew (but I couldn’t figure out from where) - I approached him and said…”You look so familiar, do we know each other?” He paused for a moment and said, “You’re the nurse.” I nodded. He said, “I’m the cop.” The cop from Lonnie's room. I asked, “So did you find out who did it?” I was totally unprepared for his response, “His wife."

According to the cop, Lonnie’s wife had promised the shooter $500.00 to kill her husband -to be paid when she collected from his Life Insurance policy.

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