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Accused VA gunman appears in federal court, denied bond

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Posted at 12:09 PM, Feb 28, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-28 19:07:37-05

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla.-- The U.S. Army veteran accused of shooting and wounding a doctor and another person Wednesday evening at the VA Medical Center in Riviera Beach appeared before a federal judge Thursday morning and is being held without bond.

59-year-old Larry Ray Bon, who was wearing a blue jumpsuit in court, is charged with assaulting officers or employees with a deadly weapon. Escorted by a US Marshal, Bon was handcuffed and in a wheelchair. He is an amputee.

Bon claimed in court that he got a job at the VA Wednesday and he was was working at the door. That claim was disputed by the government which says he was at the VA for treatment. He was going to be admitted under the Baker Act at that time. The Baker Act is a state law which lets police, judges and doctors order people who appear to be mentally ill and pose a danger to themselves or others for an involuntary psychiatric exam.

US Magistrate Judge William Matthewman asked for a report on whether a mental health evaluation is needed.

Bon faces a detention hearing Thursday, March 7, at 11 a.m.

According to the FBI, Bon pulled out a small handgun and opened fire Wednesday evening striking at least two people.

One person was grazed by the bullet, and the doctor was shot in the neck while trying to subdue him. The doctor's injury was not life-threatening and he was treated and released from a hospital.

"I think that's heroic, I mean very few people will do that. That's a doctor taking care of his patients, that's a true doctor," said Alisha Darcy, a former employee at the VA.

Darcy is a patient at the VA, but she also worked there for nine years as a medical support assistant before resigning in November 2018. Darcy says security is lax at the VA, and one of her fears while working there was a shooting.

"There's no metal detectors, you just go in you walk in you show the police aid your id and they wave you right through," Darcy said. "I think security measures need to be implemented, I think more mental health staff needs to be provided after hours."

Representatives with the American Federation of Government Employees, which represents 250,000 employees in the Department of Veterans Affairs, issued this statement:

“This shooting incident could have had far more dire consequences if not for the brave and heroic actions of the doctor on duty and the entire medical team, who receive emergency response training to deal with situations just like this.

“While we are grateful that this incident was quickly contained, next time we might not be so lucky. AFGE will continue to fight to enhance security at our VA medical facilities, to protect both patients and their health care providers from dangerous incidents like this.

“The entire AFGE family wishes a speedy recovery to both employees who were injured in this attack, and we offer our sincere gratitude to all the hospital employees and staff who helped prevent this incident from having a worse outcome."

The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs released this statement:

Security measures at the West Palm Beach VMAC are consistent with health care industry standards.