- Austin Police are still investigating the reasons for Dr. Bharat Narumanchi’s actions but do believe his recent terminal cancer diagnosis played a role.
Dr. Bharat Narumanchi, 43, a pediatrician recently diagnosed with terminal cancer killed another pediatrician on Tuesday January 26, during a hours-long standoff before turning the gun on himself, according to an Austin Police Department news release.
According to CNN, 911 dispatchers received a call on Tuesday saying a man barged into the offices of Children’s Medical Group (CMG) in downtown Austin (1912 W. 35th St.) at 4.30 p.m. with a gun and two duffel bags and was holding hostages inside the building.
Officers learned there were five hostages in the building before they got there, and Narumanchi demanded all of them tie themselves up, but some escaped and others were allowed to leave, except Dr. Katherine Dodson, a pediatrician at CMG and mother of three. Hostages told officers the man was armed with a pistol and what appeared to be a shotgun, police said.
“Because we had a barricaded situation, a hostage inside, and a man with a gun, officers on scene followed policy and called our SWAT unit, who responded immediately. Our SWAT unit was able to arrive on scene and contain the scene. They were not able to make contact with anyone inside, were not able to establish communication, and were not able to hear anything as far as a disturbance or calls for help or gunshots or anything like that,” APD Lt. Jeff Greenwalt told CBS Austin.
A hostage that managed to escape Victoria Ishaak said, “He pointed his gun at my co-worker and told her to go get the doctor … and then he points the gun at me and tells me to go lock the front door.”
Hostage negotiators arrived on scene and attempted to make contact with Dr. Narumanchi to no avail. After several attempts, they decided to enter the building using a robot with a camera. At this point, they saw at least one unresponsive subject.
Austin Police SWAT officers made entry and located both Dr. Dodson and Dr. Narumanchi dead inside the building from apparent gunshot wounds.
It appeared that Dr. Narumanchi shot himself after shooting Dr. Dodson, APD told CBS Austin.
Apparently, Narumanchi had visited the CMG office a week prior to the shooting and applied for a volunteer position, police said, but was turned down. Other than his recent visit, police were unable to find a connection between Dodson and Narumanchi.
Austin Police say they’re still investigating if this was the reason he chose to take the actions he took at this particular doctor’s office. Detectives do believe his recent terminal cancer diagnosis played a role.
“The suspect, Dr. Narumanchi, had terminal cancer and was given only weeks to live. We feel like his terminal cancer probably played a large part in whatever it was in his life that was happening yesterday,” Greenwalt said. “The family was entertaining the hospice care step and that process. As far as suspicious behavior, that’s what we want to know. A lot of times, suspicious behavior is not so suspicious when it’s happening because you’re not thinking about that, but when you look backwards with 20/20 hindsight knowing what happened, little things that weren’t suspicious at the time mean more.”
Records show Narumanchi had resided in multiple states and that his last state of residence was California, where he had a practice in Santa Ana.
“We don’t understand our son’s motives or actions but feel this time is best spent remembering Dr. Dodson and her contributions to this world,” the family of Dr. Bharat Narumanchi wrote in a statement to CBS Austin.
“We, the parents of Dr. Bharat Kumar Narumanchi, wish to extend our most sincere condolences and most fervent prayers to the family, friends and colleagues of Dr. Lindley Dodson,” Narumanchi’s family wrote in the statement.
Dodson had established a successful pediatric practice in the city, the Austin American-Statesman reported.
On Wednesday, crowds of patients, coworkers, and people living in the nearby neighborhoods came to the doctor’s office to pay their respects, leaving behind flowers, cards, and signs by the front of the building.
Narumanchi’s family released the following statement. “We, the parents of Dr. Bharat Kumar Narumanchi, wish to extend our most sincere condolences and most fervent prayers to the family, friends and colleagues of Dr. Lindley Dodson. We share your grief for a life so senselessly cut short. We don’t understand our son’s motives or actions but feel this time is best spent remembering Dr. Dodson and her contributions to this world. We are cooperating with the investigators as they seek to make sense of this tragedy.”
They further said, “The consequences of this action will live with us forever and we can only hope that faith, spiritual healing and God’s light will guide us through the darkness of this moment.”
Dodson’s page on the Dell Children’s Medical Center website says she went to medical school at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in New Orleans and completed her pediatric residency at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital. She worked for Dell Children’s for more than ten years and remained on the medical staff after leaving for her private practice in 2017.
According to a now-deleted biography posted on a website belonging to St. Joseph Heritage Healthcare, Dr. Narumanchi completed his pediatric residency training at Tripler Army Medical Center, Honolulu, Hawaii and then worked in the State of California as a General Pediatrician.
Records show he was licensed to practice medicine in Oklahoma, Connecticut, Wisconsin, Florida and California.
As to prior criminal history, court records show in 2012, Narumanchi was charged with domestic abuse in Hawaii, and the case was later dismissed, as reported by Austin American Statesman. The records detail a contentious child custody battle between Narumanchi and his ex-wife.
In one court filing, as reported by Austin American Statesman, Narumanchi described his ex-wife as “a hapless person from her childhood,” who “decided to marry me, a born-U.S. citizen and thus gain what she coveted and dreamt of — the U.S. citizenship that eluded her when she lived in the U.S. as a student.”
The parents are cooperating with investigators at this point, but they’re asking close friends to come forward to help answer still lingering questions.
“We don’t know exactly why he decided to take these actions and target this particular business. We’re asking if anyone is friends with either Dr. Dodson or Dr. Narumanchi, and knows why he wanted to come to this particular business, or knows what may have been going on in his life or his thought process. For all intents and purposes, the case — as far as who did this — is closed. We know who did it and we know there’s no longer a threat to the public, but we really, really, want to answer the question of why, and provide as many facts and circumstances to the family, friends as we can, and provide as much closure in this tragic situation as we can,” Greenwalt said.
Anu Ghosh immigrated to the U.S. from India in 1999. Back in India she was a journalist for the Times of India in Pune for 8 years and a graduate from the Symbiosis Institute of Journalism and Communication. In the U.S., she obtained her Masters and PhD. in Communications from The Ohio State University. Go Buckeyes! She has been involved in education for the last 15 years, as a professor at Oglethorpe University and then Georgia State University. She currently teaches Special Education at Oak Grove Elementary. She is also a mom to two precocious girls ages 11 and 6.