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He was going to shoot me,’ guard says( a ust read for hospital guards)

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  • He was going to shoot me,’ guard says( a ust read for hospital guards)

    ‘He was going to shoot me,’ guard says
    Mike Sakal, Tribune
    Twice married to military men, Debbie Inman said she was familiar with weapons. She knew immediately what was sticking out from under Gilbert Tuffli III’s jacket as she walked beside him in the hallway of Scottsdale Healthcare Osborn hospital Monday morning.

    “It was a 12-gauge shotgun,” recalled Inman, a registration representative at the hospital. “I thought, ‘whoa,’ and then I saw Gary coming down the hallway. I was glad for that.”

    That’s when Tuffli changed his focus from Inman to Gary Purcell, the security guard credited with subduing Tuffli in what could have been a deadly shooting inside an administrative office of Scottsdale Healthcare Osborn in downtown Scottsdale.

    In their first public interviews, Purcell and Inman described Tuesday their eyewitness accounts of the scene in which Tuffli, a retired Tempe police officer — already barred from the hospital by a restrain- ing order — opened fire as the two men struggled for control.

    “He changed his focus from me to Gary, and told him, ‘I remember you,’” Inman recalled.

    Described as cold and calloused, Tuffli, 54, of Scottsdale, already had been in the administrative offices of the hospital about 9 a.m., asking for an executive vice president who was not there. Due to his strange behavior, workers had alerted security that Tuffli was in the building.

    As dangerous as Monday’s incident could have been, Purcell said he was glad it was him who came down the hallway first. He had served as a Ranger with the U.S. Army in Grenada in 1985 and as an Arizona Department of Corrections detention officer on Death Row in Florence for six years.

    Purcell said he saw the gun as soon as he turned the corner. He said during a news conference that he believed Tuffli came back for revenge because of the previous run-in.

    “I thought, “Oh (expletive),” Purcell said. “He pointed the gun at me and said, ‘I was looking for you.’ When he turned and racked the gun around, I grabbed it. He was going to shoot me. He had five rounds in the gun and 12 in his backpack.”

    As Purcell began to tussle with Tuffli in the hallway between the administrative offices and patient admissions area, Inman ducked into a nearby office.

    “I went into an area and told everyone to close your doors — don’t anyone come out of them. Gary is down,” she said.

    Then, Inman heard the shotgun blast. As Tuffli aimed the gun, Purcell pushed it downward. The gun discharged once and fragments from the pellets ricocheted off the floor, into the wall and into the ceiling, causing minor injuries to three people, according to police.

    “I didn’t know if Gary was all right or not,” Inman said as she got emotional.

    In the meantime, security guard Rowan Sutton, along with his police dog Marko, arrived on the scene and saw Purcell struggling on the floor, trying to place handcuffs on Tuffli. Sutton and Marko assisted in the apprehension before police arrived.

    “All he said to me was, ‘Now you know how it feels,’ ” Purcell said. “I don’t know what he meant by that.”

    It may have been related to a May 25 incident in which Tuffli, who ran unsuccessfully in 1998 and 2000 for the Tempe City Council, threatened a nurse before grabbing Purcell and a hospital chaplain, according to documents in Scottsdale Municipal Court. That misdemeanor assault case is pending.

    Meanwhile, Scottsdale police arrested Tuffli about 9:15 a.m. Monday on suspicion of attempted second-degree murder, aggravated assault, discharge of a firearm within city limits and disorderly conduct with a deadly weapon. Tuffli was is being held in Maricopa County’s Fourth Avenue Jail on $270,000 bail, and is scheduled to appear in Maricopa County Superior Court on Monday, according to information from the jail.

    Purcell said his reaction to the incident was about “preservation” and trying to defuse the situation by redirecting the path of the bullet to reduce injury to him or others.

    Inman said, “Gary was my hero that day.”

    Purcell went on to say that because of Monday’s incident, security upgrades are being discussed at the hospital, such as adding more panic buttons and surveillance cameras in the hallways. However, Purcell said he wasn’t sure if the incident would lead to arming security guards in addition to carrying pepper spray.

    “I think this has opened the eyes of a lot of people,” Purcell said. “People know a lot more about what we do here. A lot more officers now will take the job more seriously.”

    Its not how we die that counts.....
    Its not how we lived that counts....
    all that matters is how we saved that one life that one time by being in the right place at the right time....