Lake Charles Memorial Health System says that race was not a factor in the reasoning for the lockdown Thursday at the hospital. The person, Edgar Sanchez, told KATC after being released by police that he believed the cashiers in the giftshop did not check him out because of his race. After he left the giftshop, he went back to his daughter’s room where the SWAT team would detain him a short time later.
In a statement, the Health Systems’ President and CEO Larry Graham says the hospital acted according to protocol and says the current state of society causes them to be “overly cautious.”
Read the full statement from below:
“This morning we received a report of a suspicious person with a gun in the hospital. In today’s world, out of an abundance of caution, we activated our lockdown protocols. This included placing the hospital on lockdown and alerting local law enforcement who took control of the situation. Law enforcement made contact with the individual and determined there was no weapon.
At no time was race a factor or used as a description in this incident until police made contact with the individual. Staff and volunteers are trained to follow protocol and leave an area they believe unsafe. It’s a shame we live in a time where we have to be overly cautious. We take every report seriously as the safety of our patients, staff and visitors will always be at the highest priority. All future questions should be directed to the Lake Charles Police Department.”
The man detained by police following an incident at Lake Charles Memorial Hospital has been released from custody, according to Lake Charles Police Deputy Chief Mark Kraus. We spoke with Edgar Sanchez who says he was the person briefly detained.
Sanchez said he went to the gift shop to purchase a bear for his 3-year-old daughter who was supposed to be released from the hospital at 10:00 a.m. He said he had a bear, candy, and told the cashier he was ready to pay, but they refused to sell anything to him. He said he then went back to the room to wait for his daughter to be released.
About a half hour later he said the SWAT team came in and ordered him out of the room with his hands in the air; his child crying as they took him into custody.
“I feel so mad. I feel like they’re being so racist to me,” says Sanchez. He said he never had a weapon, only a bottle of Coke under his blanket.
Police initially said that the person detained reportedly had a weapon in one of the rooms and that several people were in the room with him. They say the man exited the room, and they detained him without injuries. Later police would report that no weapon was found. The hospital would then be opened back up for normal operations.
The Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office SWAT Team assisted with evacuations and security efforts.
All schools in the area were placed on lockdown as a precaution. The area has since been deemed safe and all lockdowns lifted by both Lake Charles Police and the Sheriff’s Office.