Army veteran may get plea deal in VA hospital shooting
By MARC FREEMAN | The Sun Sentinel | Published: May 6, 2019
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (Tribune News Service) — A potential plea deal could resolve the case of a 59-year-old man accused of opening fire inside a South Florida veterans hospital and wounding a doctor, attorneys told a federal judge Monday.
Larry Ray Bon has been in custody since the Feb. 27 shooting inside the emergency room of the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Riviera Beach.
Bon is a U.S. Army veteran who the same day had been involuntarily admitted for mental health treatment, before he got into a struggle and fired as many as six shots, court records show.
A doctor who helped to subdue Bon was shot in the neck, and another employee was shot in the buttocks; those wounds were not life-threatening. The FBI later said Bon served in the 1970s, and at some point both of his legs were amputated.
Appearing Monday before U.S. Magistrate Judge William Matthewman, Bon sat in a wheelchair next to Assistant Public Defender Kristy Militello.
“We hopefully will reach a pre-indictment plea with the government,” she said, explaining that she just received Bon’s medical records after a two-month wait.
Militello said her client appears mentally competent to stand trial and participate in his case, but a psychologist is working with the defense to better diagnose Bon’s condition.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Susan Osborne agreed that she needs Bon’s mental health background before determining “the fairest way to charge this case.”
“I also have to consult with the victims in this case,” she told the judge.
For now, Bon is facing one count of assaulting certain officers or employees with a deadly or dangerous weapon. That charge is punishable by a maximum prison sentence of 20 years and a $250,000 fine.
Matthewman agreed to reschedule Bon’s preliminary hearing and arraignment for July 22, giving Bon’s attorney and prosecutor an opportunity to settle the case in a quicker fashion than proceeding to a trial.
“This is a serious case,” Matthewman said, before granting a 75-day extension. “It is a bit unusual to extend the preliminary hearing for this length of time.”
The judge also approved Bon’s waiver of his right to a speedy trial until at least the next hearing.
“Do you understand what’s going on?” the judge asked. “Yes sir,” answered Bon, whose long hair was tied back into a ponytail.
Court records show Bon had arrived at the veterans hospital on Feb. 27 to see his primary care doctor. Then, he was admitted under Florida’s Baker Act. The law allows a person to be briefly, involuntarily hospitalized if he is considered mentally unstable or a danger to himself or others.
About 6:30 p.m., two doctors were working at emergency room desks when a colleague screamed that someone had a gun, and three shots were heard.
Dr. Bruce Goldfeder told investigators he saw Bon on a scooter, holding a black handgun and screaming about cigarettes. To distract Bon, the doctor told him there were cigarettes behind him and he rushed to take the gun away, records show.
During a struggle over the weapon, Bon fired about three more shots, with one bullet grazing the doctor’s left ear, and then entering his neck and exiting near the base of his skull, according to FBI Special Agent Blake Crotty.
Still, Goldfeder was able to get the gun and hand it to the other ER doctor, and Bon was eventually subdued with the aid of another patient, until police arrived, Crotty wrote in a court document.
The doctor later described his injury as minor, in an interview with WPEC-Ch. 12.
“I saw the gun, and you know, I saw that it was being pointed and waved in different directions and I heard gunshots, so you know I ran towards him,” Goldfeder said. “I tackled him and the gun at the same time and restrained the gun, and then I got shot when it hit the floor.”
According to Bon’s Facebook page, he had been living in West Palm Beach. It also notes that he is single and originally from Michigan. His public page at one time featured a profile photo of a black handgun and a cover photo of his VA card. And he listed a job with a tattoo business.