Coroner confirms suicide in Valley View shooting
and Randy Essex
The Garfield County coroner today confirmed that Eric Knurr of Carbondale died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
The wound appeared to have been a single shot from .40 caliber handgun. The full autopsy report, including the location of the wound, will not be released for several weeks pending toxicology results.
The man who killed himself Monday at Valley View Hospital was a nurse once formally admonished by state regulators. He had applied for a job at Valley View but never worked there.
The Garfield County coroner Tuesday identified the man as Eric Knurr, 49, most recently of Carbondale. An autopsy was not complete Tuesday on Knurr, who was found locked in a public restroom at the hospital, dead of a gunshot wound.
Knurr held a Colorado license as a registered nurse, most recently approved in September.
Earlier in his career, the State Board of Nursing issued him a “letter of admonition” for an incident at Platte Valley Medical Center in Brighton. The letter, part of his permanent nursing record, said that in October 2005, he brushed an uncooperative patient’s teeth so hard that the man’s mouth had bled, and slapped the man, who was in restraints, on the leg. Knurr was not suspended from nursing at the time.
When he applied for a nursing license in Wyoming in 2011, regulators there noted that he had been “the subject of various communications from mental health counselors indicating that he was progressing in positive directions, including fitness to practice.” He also disclosed to Wyoming officials that he had taken prescription drugs for sleep and back troubles.
His place of employment in Wyoming, if any, was not known. A People Smart background report showed an address for him in Pavillion, Wyoming, which is near Riverton and the Wind River Indian Reservation. He apparently moved to Carbondale after that.
Stacey Gavrell, executive director of community relations and development at Valley View, told the Post Independent on Tuesday that Knurr had applied to work at the hospital in February 2012. “We decided at that time not to hire him,” Gavrell said in an email.
A hospital employee discovered Knurr dead in a bathroom stall around 11:30 a.m. Monday, after maintenance was called to unlock the door to the men’s restroom between the emergency room and radiology.
No one else was injured in the incident.
A preliminary investigation indicated that the gunshot was self-inflicted.
In the United States, between 5 and 6 percent of roughly 30,000 annual suicides occur in hospitals, according to 2003 report in the Journal of Clinical Psychology. More recent statistics from the International Healthcare Security and Safety Foundation indicate a 25 percent increase in violent crime at American hospitals between 2012 and 2013.
It is the first time such an incident has occurred at Valley View Hospital, which will conduct a comprehensive safety review. Like almost all hospitals, Valley View does not use entrance security checkpoints, which are considered impractical for hospitals.
Counseling was available for employees, and an active shooter drill had already been planned for this fall, Gavrell said Monday.
The hospital remained open after the incident, with only the hallway adjacent to the restroom closed for a few hours.
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