BUFFALO, Minn. (WCCO) — There was a massive police response to the deadly shooting inside the Allina Health Clinic in Buffalo Tuesday morning.
Gregory Ulrich, 67, is in custody. Five people were injured in the attack at Allina Clinic Crossroads, one of whom later died at a Hennepin Healthcare hospital in Minneapolis. Of the four other victims — all whom were taken to North Memorial Health hospital in Robbinsdale — one was released late Tuesday afternoon, while the three others are in critical, but stable, condition.
Officers from Minneapolis, the University of Minnesota and the Hennepin County Sherriff’s Office joined the Buffalo police and fire Departments along with the Wright County Sheriff’s Office in securing the area.
Members of the Minneapolis Police Department’s bomb squad were also on scene sweeping the area for any kind of device that could pose a threat to homes, businesses or schools nearby.
Kathy Kurth told KRWC Radio that she called 911 in a panic when her routine medical appointment turned into a nightmare.
“I just said … where I was and that there was a man with a gun and he was shooting, and that I was hiding,” Kurth said. “I heard this man say, ‘Get down on the ground!’ and I turned and I saw the back of this man and he had a gun … And there was screaming and there was shooting … I didn’t know what to do.”
As Tiffany Politte dropped her mom off at the clinic Tuesday, she had no idea she was about to become a hero.
“Two nurses came running out and when we I asked them what was wrong, and they said there’s been a shooting,” Politte said. “Just scrubs, no phones, nothing. They ran out of there pretty quickly.”
The nurses were running for their lives.
“The front door they came out of was like feet away from the windows that were just shot after they came out,” she said. “They got out of there just in time.”
After Politte brought the nurses to safety, she was given more unsettling news.
“My son’s school is in lockdown because he’s pretty close to the clinic,” she said.
The day was a blur for Politte.
“I just think it’s crazy to happen in this town, and you know, the shooter was from this town, lived in this town,” she said.
But it’s a day that will stick with her forever.
“It’s just scary to think of how close to home it was,” she said.
The manager of a restaurant next to the clinic told WCCO three nurses ran in Tuesday morning without their jackets and cellphones to use his phone in order to call their families and tell them they were safe.
Just before 11 a.m., people who work near the clinic heard what they say sounded like an explosion.
“I just heard a big boom and I said to my client, ‘That was something big,'” Anne, who works near the clinic, said. “And then finished up my hair cut, he left and then I heard choppers coming in and that’s when we realized something really big did happen.”
Peeking out the window, Anne saw the response to gunfire inside the clinic. She says officers swarmed the area while they locked their doors and stayed in place.
Law enforcement locked down the area, letting no one in until the Minneapolis bomb squad arrived to sweep the area for any kind of explosive.
One father told WCCO he was just in the clinic this morning with his daughter for her checkup. They left less than 30 minutes before the shooting began. John Teah says this incident has him concerned about the safety of his family.
“I have little ones, I have three little ones. I used to be in Brooklyn Park, so I left Brooklyn Park to go to a smaller, quiet community and I’ve been here for two years now. Pretty good so far until today, I guess,” Teah said.
WCCO visited the neighborhood where Ulrich lived until last week. Neighbors there were used to police coming to look for him, and many of them were evacuated Tuesday as a precaution. Sheriff’s deputies, ATF agents and others surrounded his former home. K-9 officers were also seen going inside. Police say they have had on-and-off-again contact with Ulrich since 2003, and WCCO was told he was on their radar.
Former neighbor Benjamin Thompson calls Ulrich combative, and said he liked to argue about almost anything. He also said there had been a sign outside Ulrich’s home that now has him questioning what was going on.
“It was handwritten, it said ‘Allina Crooks’ in letters big enough across the top that you could read from a car driving by,” Thompson said.
WCCO was told Ulrich recently moved out and moved into a nearby Super 8 motel. Several law enforcement agencies were on the scene there Tuesday as well, including bomb technicians.
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