Administrators and staff at a leading Boston hospital are mourning the death of a cardiac surgeon who was fatally shot at the hospital by a man who then killed himself, as the gunman's brother said the shooter had blamed the surgeon for their mother's death.
Officials at Brigham and Women's Hospital said Dr. Michael J. Davidson, director of endovascular cardiac surgery, died late Tuesday after being shot around 11 a.m.
"Dr. Davidson was a wonderful and inspiring cardiac surgeon who devoted his career to saving lives and improving the quality of life of every patient he cared for," the hospital said in a statement. "It is truly devastating that his own life was taken in this horrible manner."
Hospital officials on Wednesday lowered a flag outside the hospital to half-staff in honor of Davidson.
Several of Davidson's colleagues at Brigham and Women's Hospital spoke Wednesday afternoon about what they'll remember about their friend. Choking back tears at times, they talked about his skill as a guitarist, his love of fly fishing and what a great father he was to his three young children.
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"He loved his kids and would talk about them at all our get-togethers," said Dr. Daniel Wiener. "He was just really proud of them."
"If you had to pick a father, you'd pick Mike," added Dr. Andrew Eisenhauer.
They also spoke of what a dedicated professional Davidson was, and how much he cared for his patients.
"I've seen him go absolutely to the mat for his patients," Eisenhauer said. "He didn't treat them just as patients - he treated them as people."
"Mike was a magician," said Dr. Charles Morris. "I don't know how he did all that he did in the time allotted. It makes me feel, frankly, inadequate. He was so generous with his time, sharing his time both professionally and personally."
Despite their terrible loss, Davidson's colleagues said they know they need to move forward.
"We've all said amongst ourselves, this can't stop the resolve of physicians doing what we do and we just have to keep going and just try to take this as one of those things that'll hopefully never repeat itself," said Dr. Pinak Shah.
"This is what people do all over the world who take care of patients," Eisenhauer said. "It's part of the price of admission to life."
Police said Stephen Pasceri, 55, entered the hospital Tuesday morning and specifically requested Davidson. Pasceri, of Millbury, shot the doctor twice just outside an examination room on the second floor of the Carl J. and Ruth Shapiro Cardiovascular Center, before turning the gun on himself, police said.
Boston Police Commissioner William Evans said officers conducting a room-by-room search found the gunman dead in an exam room with the weapon. Police said Pasceri wasn't a patient of the doctor's, and they didn't specify a motive for the shootings.
Pasceri's sister, Marguerite Joly, told the Boston Herald that she has "no idea why he snapped."
She said Pasceri "deeply loved" his mother, Marguerite Pasceri, who died in November and had been under Davidson's care at Brigham and Women's Hospital last year. But Joly also said that Pasceri and Davidson had a "fine relationship," and she doesn't understand why her brother would blame Davidson.
On Facebook, Pasceri's brother Gregory posted a statement that read in part, "Yesterday my oldest, beloved brother Steven took his own life in Boston after shooting the heart surgeon that he believed was responsible for the death of our mother back in november [sic]. Thank you all so much who have sent condolences and prayers. Two families are now shattered and in a state of abject shock and anguish. Pray that God will allow both of the departed into his presence, and forgive the great sin that has hurt so many."
Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh said he was "deeply saddened" by Davidson's death. "This tragedy is the result of a senseless act of violence that has no place in our City," he said in a statement early Wednesday.
Police and hospital officials commended the fast response by police and hospital staff, who they said had been trained to respond to an "active shooter" situation.
Evans said police were on the scene within seconds after getting the first calls of shots fired and had the area secured within 15 minutes.
Betsy Nabel, the hospital's president, said Brigham and Women's will evaluate its safety protocols. She said there have been no discussions about installing metal detectors, which none of the city's hospitals have.
In addition to his three kids, ages 2, 7, and 9, Davidson leaves behind his wife, Dr. Terri Halperin, who hospital officials said is seven months pregnant with their fourth child.
The Dr. Michael J. Davidson Family Fund has been established at RTN Federal Credit Union. Anyone who wishes to contribute can go to www.rtn.org/davidsonfund, send a check for the Dr. Michael J. Davidson Family Fund to RTN Federal Credit Union, 600 Main St., Waltham, MA 02452, or stop by an RTN branch.