Apparent suicide by veteran inside Warren VA clinic ‘tragic situation,’ VA says


By Ed Runyan

runyan@vindy.com

WARREN

The U.S. Veterans Affairs Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center says the apparent self-inflicted shooting death of a Vienna man inside the Warren Outpatient Clinic on Friday is a “tragic situation.”

“There was a sad, isolated incident Friday afternoon at our Warren VA Outpatient Clinic,” a spokeswoman said Monday after being contacted by The Vindicator.

“Due to privacy regulations, we cannot provide additional information on the incident or individuals involved, but our condolences and thoughts are with the family of our nation’s hero,” said Kristen Parker, chief of external affairs at the Cleveland center.

The Warren Police Department confirmed Monday that a Vienna man shot himself to death in the chest while attending an appointment inside the VA offices on Tod Avenue at 3:54 p.m. Friday.

The man, 53, was a military veteran. A woman with the same address and last name as the victim was listed as the person who called 911.

A detective said he didn’t know if other people were in the room at the time of the incident. Parker said that because of privacy regulations, she cannot discuss who else was involved. She said no one else was injured.

The Trumbull County Coroner’s office says the death is a coroner’s case, but there’s been no ruling on the cause of death.

All VA outpatient clinics have security guards on site, Parker said. “Our VA police regularly patrol the clinics and have established relationships with the local authorities,” she said.

The facility has no metal detectors to screen for weapons, the detective said. Parker added: “Weapons of any kind are prohibited on federal property. Anyone entering a federal facility is subject to search. If there is suspicion that someone on our property has a weapon or unauthorized substance, local and VA police are contacted to respond.”

Parker’s statement notes that veterans experiencing a mental-health emergency can be seen the same day, regardless of the character of their discharge.

Veterans being treated for mental-health concerns, to include suicidal ideations, are followed closely by their providers and treated in accordance with the national recommended suicide prevention guidelines.

If veterans are having thoughts of harming themselves or others, they should contact the crisis line immediately at 1-800-273-8255 (veterans press 1), the statement says.

Meanwhile, the coroner’s office also is investigating the death of Wallace Bonzer, 58, of Howland, who was found dead Saturday afternoon inside his truck in Eastwood Mall’s parking lot.

The coroner’s office said Bonzer had been experiencing chest pain and was on his way to the doctor at the time he stopped to use an ATM machine at the bank.

The truck was parked between the Pep Boys store and Huntington Bank office.

He was reported missing Saturday to Howland police by his family, which had not seen him since Friday, according to 21 WFMJ-TV, The Vindicator’s broadcast partner.

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