Loaded gun found in children's hospital

by: Jodie Fleischer Updated:

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ATLANTA - A loaded handgun and ammunition were found at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Hughes Spalding in downtown Atlanta.

"Extra security measures were taken immediately, including an increased security presence at the facility and a dedicated security officer in the emergency department," hospital spokeswoman Patty Gregory told Channel 2's Jodie Fleischer.

A source gave Fleischer a photo of the .40-caliber Glock handgun found in the bottom of a hospital trash can. Sources said it was inside a bathroom, in a secure area of the emergency room.

"We are working closely with local law enforcement to ensure the continued safety of our patients and our staff," said Gregory.

Hospital security officers contacted the Atlanta Police Department to retrieve the gun early Monday.

"We're glad we recovered the gun, and nothing happened." Atlanta police Sgt. Curtis Davenport said. "Anytime a gun ends up in a place where it shouldn't be, it concerns all of us -- not just the police department, but it's a possible safety hazard to those who were in the hospital, those who work there."

A custodian found the gun, along with two extra clips of ammunition, 40 bullets total. It was hidden in between the liner and the trash can. The custodian said she changes the bags every three hours, so it likely hadn't been there long.

"It's going to be sent to our crime lab to see if we can match any ballistics to it, to see if it has been used in any crime," Davenport said.

The gun contained a serial number, but it was not registered and hadn't been reported stolen. The hospital has surveillance cameras, which may help with the case.

Ninety percent of patients at the hospital are uninsured or on Medicaid, Gregory said. The bathrooms are primarily designated for families and are not gender-specific.

The hospital representative said the extra security was immediately brought on Monday morning and has been there all week.

"This should definitely come as a wakeup call to parents. It is entirely possible that your child will come into contact with a firearm outside of your supervision," said Matt Podowitz, who volunteers as a firearms safety and crime prevention instructor.

He said the fact that the gun was hidden doesn't necessarily mean the owner planned to use it at the hospital.

"It could have been an illegal firearms transaction and it was simply a drop, or for that matter, somebody could have come to the hospital, discovered they would have to interact with police, were illegally carrying that firearm and chose to conceal it," said Podowitz.

"We definitely don't want anything tragic to happen at the hospital. We're happy it's just one less gun on the streets of Atlanta," said Davenport.

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