News23ABC I-Team Investigates


Video shows inside Memorial Hospital following fake active shooter call

CEO discusses what has changed at the hospital
I-TEAM: Video shows inside Memorial Hospital following fake active shooter call
Posted at 7:42 PM, Mar 14, 2019
and last updated 2020-01-28 15:54:28-05

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — It was a single call that led to a multi-agency response at Memorial Hospital in December of 2018.

Now, the I-Team takes an in-depth look at the investigation into the incident including exclusive video from inside Memorial Hospital moments after the "code black" call out was made.

Following 911 calls reporting an "active shooter" at Memorial Hospital on December 4, 2018, Bakersfield Police rushed to the scene, but hours into their investigation they set their sights on Mario Thompson. Police discovered surveillance video showing Thompson in the hallway near where the "Code Black" call was made just moments later. Outside of the hospital, 23ABC's cameras were rolling, showing Thompson in the secure police area within feet of local law enforcement.

Police reports show law enforcement officers and hospital staff told police Thompson acted and identified himself as a police officer.
Pictures taken by BPD show a security badge and nylon pouch with the word "police" on it that Thompson was wearing during the lock down.

At police headquarters BPD officers questioned Thompson about his involvement. Initially he claimed he didn't have anything to do with it, but eventually admitted to police he did it, saying "I wanted to test your readiness."

It was from that interview that Bakersfield Police suspected Thompson was also responsible for the incident at Mercy Hospital Southwest.

Thompson told police he may have been a patient there that day, but didn't remember any sort of lock down or police response while he was there.

Police reports show through search warrants they determined Thompson was at Mercy Southwest during the fake "code black" call out there in August of 2018.
Officers interviewed the doctor who treated Thompson that day. The doctor told police he didn't specifically remember seeing Thompson that day, but remembered treating him in the past.

The doctor went on to tell police that he was treating a patient who was "legitimately suffering from a life-threatening condition whose treatment was halted due to the emergency report." The doctor went on to tell police the patient lived, but "the outcome could very easily have been different."

In a jailhouse interview with Thompson in December of 2018, he told 23ABC he was a patient at the hospital, but didn't have anything to do with the call out.

23ABC sat down with Memorial's CEO Ken Keller on Thursday to ask what has changed at the hospital since that December afternoon. Keller said one of the main changes they've made is adding security.

"We have more security staff here today then we did at that time." Keller said.

He said the hospital has also restricted access to some doors that used to be open. Keller said they also changed the criteria for triggering a code black, or active shooter call, at the hospital.

"What we've done is taken additional precautions to be able to say if somebody calls in with that stipulation there's some key identifiers beyond that to confirm that it is, I'll say, legitimate versus something else." Keller said.

Keller said they've also asked staff to be diligent about making sure people in the hospital have either a Dignity Health badge or visitor badge. For those who don't have a badge, Keller said he's asking staff to respectfully question those people and make sure they're in designated, public areas of the hospital.

Overall, despite the scare, Keller said the hospital is more prepared today that before the fake call out.

"We learned some things and vulnerabilities and we made some assessments, we made some corrections and some additional elements in the plan that we believe makes us better prepared for next time." Keller said.