An elderly Johnson Lane man planned to shoot his wife and then himself at Carson Tahoe Regional Medical Center on Sunday when the gun jammed after the first shot, Carson City authorities are reporting.
William Dresser, 88, was on suicide watch at the Carson City Jail after critically wounding wife Frances, 86, on the hospital’s third floor at about 11:20 a.m. He was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder with a deadly weapon, with bail set at $225,000, according to Carson Sheriff Ken Furlong.
She was taken to Renown Regional Medical Center in Reno with life-threatening injuries to her abdomen.
Frances Dresser was in a fall the week of Jan. 9 that injured her spinal column, according to a family member’s Facebook post.
Dresser told deputies she was paralyzed, and that he’d come to the hospital with four bullets in the small-caliber, semi-automatic handgun — two for her and two for him. After the gun jammed, it came apart as he attempted to clear the chamber. He said he was trying to shoot his wife in the heart.
He was detained by Department of Corrections officers already on the ward with another patient.
Dresser said he and his wife had been married 63 years. He was crying when deputies arrived and said something to the effect of, “I didn’t accomplish my goal.”
Furlong said he couldn’t recall another shooting taking place at Carson Tahoe Hospital. The sheriff said he’d never seen someone in their 80s arrested on suspicion of attempted murder.
Furlong said he spoke to Dresser at length on Sunday night, and that Dresser said the worst previous problem he’d ever had with law enforcement was getting a ticket recently for an auto-registration issue.
“He appears to be emotional,” Furlong said Monday. “He’s OK.”
Inmates on suicide watch are placed in a glass room in direct view of a jail staffer at all times, Furlong said.
“He cannot do anything without an officer observing,” he said.
Hospital staffers were traumatized by the experience, Furlong said. The hospital was locked down for a couple of hours after the incident.
This is the second shooting involving an elderly Douglas County resident in two months. On Nov. 21, Fish Springs resident Melvin Orlund, 81, told a neighbor he’d shot his caretaker. He said the woman grabbed the end of the barrel and the gun went off. He is being held in Douglas County Jail on an open murder count.