5 injured, suspect in custody in shooting at Buffalo, Minnesota clinic, police say

Grace Hauck

Jenny Berg
 
| USA TODAY NETWORK

BUFFALO, Minn. – Authorities say five people were injured and a suspect is in custody Tuesday after a shooting at a health clinic in Buffalo, Minnesota. 

The shooting happened late Tuesday morning at the Allina Health clinic in the city about 40 miles northwest of Minneapolis, officials said.

Buffalo Police Chief Pat Budke said the department received a call of shots fired just before 11 a.m. CT. City and county officers arrived at the scene to find several people injured, as well as the suspect, and the officers tried to render aid, Budke said.

“There is no information at this point that leads us to believe that there is any nexus with any type of domestic terrorism,” Budke said, pausing to hold back tears. “We are very familiar with the suspect.”

Five victims were taken to area hospitals, said Kelly Spratt, president of Allina Health Buffalo. Four were ultimately taken to North Memorial Hospital, and one to Hennepin County Medical Center. Two had initially been transported to Buffalo Hospital, he said.

Officers on the scene also found a “suspicious package” in a corner of the lobby and evacuated the facility, Wright County Sheriff Sean Deringer said.

Deringer identified the suspect as Gregory Paul Ulrich, 67, of Buffalo. Officers have received “several calls” pertaining to Ulrich dating back to 2003 Deringer said.

The suspect acted alone and appeared to intentionally target the facility or someone at the facility, Budke said. The suspect had been treated at the facility in the past, he said, but there was “nothing to indicate that we would have been in the situation that we are in today.”

Ulrich had been staying at a Super 8 motel, located less than three miles from the clinic, Deringer said. Officers found “additional, suspicious devices” at the hotel, Deringer said.

“There may have been” an explosion inside the facility prior to officers arriving on the scene, Budke said, but he did give additional information about the devices.

Earlier, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said “some improvised explosive devices” were related to the incident.

Minnesota State Patrol pilots were flying boxes of blood from the Red Cross to Buffalo Hospital for victims of the shooting, the agency said on Twitter.

Schools in the area were placed on temporary lockdown as a precautionary measure, the sheriff’s office said.

By early afternoon, several county and local police and fire vehicles were in front of the clinic, and a Minneapolis Police Bomb Squad truck was set up in front of the building’s main entrance. The road south of the clinic, about a mile south of Buffalo Hospital, was closed to traffic.

The Super 8 hotel and Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, which owns the Super 8 hotel chain, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension special agents and crime scene personnel were headed to the scene to assist police in the investigation, Minnesota Department of Public Safety spokesperson Bruce Gordon told USA TODAY.

Doug Abbott, 60, of Loretto, Minnesota, said he had an 11:35 a.m. appointment at the clinic to check his blood pressure. The entrance was blocked off so he parked in a nearby strip mall lot, where someone mentioned they saw a report of a shooter online. 

A nurse then called to cancel his appointment due to an “incident,” he said. 

“She said, ‘We’re in a lockdown’ and I told her I was praying for them,” he said. “Had (my appointment) been a half-hour earlier, I could have been one of the witnesses — hopefully not dead.”

Allina Health, a nonprofit health system based in Minneapolis, owns or operates 12 hospitals and more than 90 clinics in Minnesota and Wisconsin, according to the company’s website.

A state Department of Public Health spokesman told the Associated Press he didn’t immediately know if the clinic has been administering COVID-19 vaccinations.

U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Minn., who represents Buffalo, said on Twitter that he and his staff were monitoring the situation.

Minnesota Rep. Marion O’Neill said the incident was an “unimaginable tragedy.”

“My friends, my children and grandchildren live and work in Buffalo and while we do not yet know who the injured are, we are all connected. My heart breaks for these victims, their families and our community,” O’Neill said.

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said on Twitter that the “tragic shooting” happened not far from where she grew up.

“So sad for all those there at clinic and those injured and praying for their recovery.  Thanks to those saving lives right now. Gun violence must stop,” she wrote on Twitter.

U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., said on Twitter that she was “devastated” by the news of the incident.

“My thoughts are with all the victims and their families right now,” she wrote.

Contributing:  Associated Press

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