Disturbance at Meritus Medical center leads to charges against Hagerstown man

  • In US
  • 2021-12-31 10:01:05Z
  • By The Herald-Mail

A Hagerstown man has been charged with threatening mass violence, assaulting staff and destroying equipment at Meritus Medical Center, according to Washington County District Court records.

Joseph Brian Clark, 31, is charged with two counts of making a threat of mass violence and one count each of malicious destruction of property valued at less than $1,000, second-degree assault and disorderly conduct, court records show.

The charges stem from incidents on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Tuesday, according to court records.

On Christmas Eve police were dispatched to the emergency room entrance for a report of a disorderly person, and were told that a male was causing problems for security staffers after being told to leave. Clark had also called dispatch and indicated that his wife was dying at the hospital and said he wanted police to shoot him so he could die with her. He made other threats, including saying that he would have a shootout with police, according to the charging document filed against him.

Police arrived to find Clark sitting on a curb outside where he said he was told to leave the emergency room after having a fight with his wife's brother in the parking lot. Clark went on a profanity-laced tirade about the brother as "numerous people" including employees, patients and visitors were walking in and out and stopping to watch, the document states.

Security staffers told police that Clark was told to leave the emergency room after he got into a verbal altercation with a family member in the lobby in front of about 40 people and made threats against nursing and security staffers, saying that he would shoot anyone who prevented him from seeing his wife. He was served a trespass letter in the parking lot and agreed to leave, the document states.

Earlier: Washington County inmate accused of threatening judges in another inmate's name

More: Report of armed man holding woman, children against their will leads to arrest

That night Clark made an anonymous report of shots fired at the brother-in-law's home, according to charging documents, but police found no evidence of a crime.

Early the next morning, Christmas Day, he allegedly made a bomb threat for Fairgrounds Park in Hagerstown, saying he was upset that he couldn't see his dying wife and that he had bombs and other weapons. Police found none, and he was taken to the hospital for an emergency commitment, according to the document.

That evening, police were dispatched to the hospital for a combative patient. Clark told staffers he had taken measures to get back into the hospital to see his wife after he had been removed for trespassing. When told he had to stay for a mental evaluation, he destroyed his room, flipped over medical carts and threatened staffers with a mop handle, the document states.

On Tuesday, Clark was calm and polite on the phone when the hospital notified him that his wife had passed away, but he called back in around 45 minutes later "advising he was on the way there and was going to shoot everyone and advised no one will stop him," the document states.

Clark was ordered held without bail following an appearance early Wednesday morning before a district court commissioner, court records show.

During a bail review hearing that afternoon, Assistant State's Attorney Holland Burch recounted the events listed in the charging document and asked Judge Kenneth M. Long Jr. to order Clark to continue to be held without bail, saying he presented a danger to himself and perhaps others.

Deputy District Public Defender Eric Reed noted that Clark has mental health issues and no ability to post bail. He told Long that Clark was distraught over his wife's condition, might have taken too much of his anxiety medication and that, although his actions made people uncomfortable, no one was hurt.

"He's hopeful you will consider releasing him," Reed said. "He's not going to be a problem."

Long declined, and ordered Clark to continue to be held without bail.

"Mr. Clark you cause me great concern," he said. "You were given an opportunity to stand down, but you chose not to do that and you placed people in fear."

This article originally appeared on The Herald-Mail: Hagerstown man charged with making threats at hospital


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