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Doctor killed in hospital shooting was filling in for colleague

Tracy Sin-Yee Tam, a 32-year-old family medicine physician,

Tracy Sin-Yee Tam, a 32-year-old family medicine physician, was killed in a shooting at the Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center on June 30, 2017, according to the NYPD. Photo Credit: Facebook; Go Nakamura

The family medicine physician who was killed in the shooting at the Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center on Friday has been identified by police as Queens resident Tracy Sin-Yee Tam, 32.

Tam was shot, along with six others when a former employee of the Bronx hospital, identified as 45-year-old Henry Bello, used an AM-15 assault rifle to open fire on the 16th and 17th floors of the hospital.

The doctor, of Jamaica, Queens, had been covering for a colleague who was off Friday, officials said. Tam had been working at the hospital for close to a year and was well-liked by staff, according to Dr. Sridhar Chilimuri, who has been a physician at the Bronx hospital for about 29 years.

"It's not right, but the way she passed was the way she lived — helping others," said Peter Q. Lee, an emergency room doctor at St. Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, New Jersey, who said he knew Tam as a medical student at Tuoro College.

She graduated in June 2013 and got her medical license two years later, in December 2015, state records show. 

"She was very selfless," Lee added.

Pat Vicencio, 55, of Jamaica, who lives a block from Tam, said the doctor was devoted to her mother, father and sister, who lived with her in a two-story brick duplex. 

"She's a very nice girl," he said. "Shy and friendly."

Tam's family members could not be reached for comment Saturday.

She was not targeted by the gunman, a disgruntled former doctor who had been forced to resign, authorities said.

Three other physicians were injured in the shooting on Friday, as well as two medical students and one patient, officials said.

One of the injured physicians was shot in the brain and knee and is in critical condition, Chilimuri said.

He went through several hours of extensive surgery Friday night and will need to be transported to Mt. Sinai hospital for additional surgery, according to Chilimuri.

"We're watching to see how he develops," he said.

Another physician was shot in the neck, but is expected to recover, Chilimuri said.

"She is doing well," he said. "It's not as serious as we had thought it was."

Another victim was shot in the hand, had to have surgery and is now recovering, he said. And another physician was shot in the abdomen and is also in stable condition.

"He was on a ventilator. He's off the ventilator now; he's talking to his family," Chilimuri said.

Another injured patient suffered a minor injury and is expected to be released soon, the doctor added.

The shooter started firing inside the hospital just before 3 p.m. on Friday, putting the hospital and neighboring businesses on lockdown as police searched for him. He tried to set himself on fire, before turning the gun on himself, police said. He was found dead on the 17th floor with his rifle nearby.

The exact motive is not clear, but authorities believe it to be work-related. 

Bello apparently emailed the New York Daily News hours before the shooting, blaming the hospital for ruining his career over “bogus complaints,” the newspaper reported.

“This hospital terminated my road to a licensure to practice medicine,” Bello wrote, according to the Daily News. “First, I was told it was because I always kept to myself. Then it was because of an altercation with a nurse.”

His email to the newspaper blamed two doctors for his termination.

The first person Bello shot at was Dr. Roger Green, who was standing at a nurses’ station on the 16th floor, where Bello used to work, according to a senior NYPD official.

“Why didn’t you help me out when I was getting in trouble?” the gunman yelled, according to the official.

The bullet missed Green, who was able to flee into a room on the 16th floor, the official said.

The official said Bello then shot several people and went up to the 17th floor, where he shot two doctors, including Tam. The rampage ended when Bello entered a room and shot himself in the chest.

Bello apparently fired eight shots. The box for the Anderson AM-15 assault rifle that Bello hid under a white lab coat as he entered the hospital Friday afternoon was found in his Bronx apartment, according to the official.

The Sheridan Avenue apartment was sealed off by police Saturday.

Hospital officials said the former employee's return came without warning.

"There was no warning that he would return," said hospital spokesman Errol Schneer. "We don't know how he was able to get through and disguise himself."

Police are still investigating the incident.

Sprinklers were set off when the gunman tried to set himself on fire, causing water damage on the 15th, 16th and 17th floors, Chilimuri said. Those floors were evacuated, and patients have either been moved to a different floor or transferred to Mt. Sinai Hospital, he added.

With Newsday

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