published Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

Hutcheson hospital ICU shooting 911 tapes released

  • photo
    Police vehicles sit outside Hutcheson Medical Center after a shooting Friday night.
    Photo by Jake Daniels /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Audio clip

Emergency calls from Hutcheson

"People have been shot. Go! Go! Go! It's not a patient!" an Erlanger at Hutcheson employee cried over the phone as she called 911.

"We have four gunshot wounds. I have two visitors that have been shot," the employee told a 911 dispatcher Friday night just after 6 p.m. "I need EMS to come help us."

Five people called Catoosa County 911 within seconds of each other Friday to report a man had started shooting in the waiting room of the Fort Oglethorpe hospital's intensive care unit, emergency records show. James Benson, 59, later was identified as that man after he turned himself in to Fort Oglethorpe police.

While four people originally were reported shot, police later said two were shot and killed -- Benson's estranged wife, 56-year-old Mary Sue, and his 77-year-old mother-in-law, Charlotte Johnson. Both woman died from gunshot wounds to the chest.

Benson has been charged with two counts of felony murder and is being held in Walker County Jail without bond.

The first 911 call came in at 6:02 p.m. when the hospital's house supervisor, Jennifer Sutton, called for help from her office phone, records show.

As Sutton describes the chaos in the hospital, the dispatcher lets out a sound of surprise.

"Everybody started running and I heard all these people screaming outside of my office," Sutton told the dispatcher. "I'm afraid to walk outside my office because I just don't know."

Seconds earlier, 911 received another call for help from a man who appeared to be within the waiting room when the shooting took place.

"Gunfire, a guy that came in started shooting people," the man blurted to a dispatcher.

Panting, the man tries to describe the shooter, but can't remember what he looks like.

Catoosa County 911 Director Rhonda Bass said she was surprised there were only five calls made to 911 to report the hospital shooting. But emergency crews quick action might have been the reason for the few calls, she said.

"There was so much response going so fast, that thwarted some of the calls," she said.

about Joy Lukachick Smith...

Joy Lukachick Smith is the city government reporter for the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Since 2009, she's covered crime and court systems in North Georgia and rural Tennessee, landed an exclusive in-prison interview with a former cop convicted of killing his wife, exposed impropriety in an FBI-led, child-sex online sting and exposed corruption in government agencies. Earlier this year, Smith won the Malcolm Law Memorial Award for Investigative Reporting. She also won first place in ...

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