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Police ID victim, suspect in shooting at CHI St. Vincent North in Sherwood

by Alexandria Brown, Remington Miller, Will Langhorne and Andy Davis | September 28, 2022 at 4:39 p.m.
Investigators work at an Zimmerman's Exxon, 5223 S. University Ave. on Wednesday after a man accused in a fatal shooting at CHI St. Vincent North was taken into custody. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Staci Vandagriff)

Police identified the suspect and victim involved in the shooting at CHI St. Vincent North in Sherwood late Wednesday afternoon.

In a press conference, Sherwood Police Department Chief Jeff Hagar said Leighton Whitfield is the person who was killed. 

He also said Raymond Lovett is in custody, though he has not yet been formally charged in connection with the shooting.

Hager also said the shooting was “not an act of terriorism” and the public is not at threat. 

“The suspect and the victim knew each other,” the police chief said. “It appears to be an isolated event that just happened to take place in a public facility.”

Whitfield was not a patient at the facility and was visiting someone that was admitted into the hospital, Hager said. 

He commended medical personnel and authorities from multiple agencies for assisting during what he called the “complete worst case scenario.”

“We had officers from every jurisdiction you can imagine that responded to the call and to include our federal partners, and our state partners, county officials – we had  a huge response and that’s very appreciative,” Hagar said

3:51 p.m.: 1 dead, 1 in custody after shooting at CHI St. Vincent North in Sherwood, authorities say

One person is dead and another is in custody after a Wednesday morning shooting inside CHI St. Vincent North in Sherwood, authorities said.

The name of the victim or suspect wasn’t immediately released. The victim’s next of kin hasn’t been notified.

Authorities said they were able to secure and clear the hospital after it was placed on lockdown. 

Those at the scene offered mixed responses when asked whether they were notified of the lockdown and how they were notified. 

And others standing outside the hospital recalled their harrowing experience awaiting word about the safety of their loved ones.

A receptionist at an onsite clinic said administrators didn’t tell her that there was an active shooter. She said she found out about it from a coworker she met in the hallway. 

Meanwhile, Jason Caldwell was in a second floor waiting room when he heard over the hospital’s intercom that there was an active shooter on the fourth floor. 

Caldwell said his wife and his mother hid in a bathroom with four other people while more announcements alerted patients and staff that the situation was not a drill. 

Police officers going door to door told Caldwell to stay put, he said. A few minutes later, they were evacuated. 

“We knew it was on the fourth floor … so I was calm,” he said. “You see this on TV and it just brought back to reality that there is evil in this world and it shows its dirty head from time to time.” 

But his father was in surgery when the shooting happened, so the family was awaiting news about him immediately after the shooting. 

Also inside an operating room during the shooting was the wife of a man who was standing in the parking lot of the nearby Academy Sports store around noon. 

He declined to give his name, but said his wife is a nurse and had texted him to say she was barricaded inside an operating room with her patient and about two dozen health care workers and patients. 

They had pushed medical equipment against the door, the man said.

"The police came through and took all the non-essential people out, and the people that were still doing surgeries and recovering and everything else stayed back, so they're still in there," the man said early Wednesday afternoon.

"It's where they were doing surgeries," he said. "They can't stop."

Also standing outside the hospital was Cynthia Fuller and Debra Hicks, who said they had traveled 125 miles to visit a relative that was in the hospital. 

“My son is in there,” Fuller said, “We came all this way and came up on this. All we could see is staff running.” 

Fuller said she and Hicks pulled over and asked someone what was happening.

“They told us there was an active shooter and that we couldn’t go in,” Fuller said, “Now we just have to wait.”

Immediately after the shooting, Caldwell and his family were also waiting, outside the police perimeter, for news of his father.

“They can’t get out of there right now because they are barricaded in the surgical room,” Caldwell said roughly 90 minutes after the shooting.

The receptionist said her first indication that an incident was underway came when “me and my coworker looked out the window and saw something going on outside. There were like seven or eight police cars that we saw at that time.” 

She said she saw employees and other people outside, and noticed a lot of them were on their phones. 

The receptionist was on her way to the clinic across the hall from hers when she said she came across another worker. That worker told her about there being a shooter on the fourth floor, the receptionist said. “We didn’t hear an announcement or anything,” she said. 

She said the person who notified her said they found out about the shooter from a technician at the hospital.

The receptionist said she and her coworkers grabbed their things, locked the doors and ran outside after she told the other clinic about the shooter.

 “We don’t know anything really other than that,” she said, noting that they had been out of the building since 10 a.m. 

Individuals standing outside the building after police arrived at the scene of the shooting said they were not sure whether administration or law enforcement would give the all-clear. Staff were given the clearance to enter the building around 12:40 p.m. 

That’s nearly two hours after Little Rock police responded to a report that a "potential suspect" in the shooting was at the 5200 block of South University, according to a tweet posted before 1:10 p.m. from the department.

The post states officers arrived at Zimmerman’s Exxon, 5223 S. University Ave., and detained that person. The gas station is located about 15 miles south of the hospital.

The Sherwood Police Department was notified about the arrest. Little Rock police, Arkansas State Police, Jacksonville Police, Pulaski County sheriff’s office, and the Little Rock FBI assisted Sherwood police in this investigation.

The investigation is ongoing, according to authorities. 


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