Prosecutors say a shooter brought four bombs and a handgun to a small-town clinic, apparently as revenge for back treatment he was unhappy with, and killed one while injuring four others.
BUFFALO, Minn. (CN) — A man who allegedly bombed a rural Minnesota clinic and shot five staff members on Tuesday has been charged with second-degree murder.
Gregory Ulrich, 67, also faces four counts of first-degree attempted murder, possession of an explosive or incendiary device and carrying a pistol without a permit for an alleged attack on Allina Health Clinic in Buffalo, Minnesota, a small town 42 miles northwest of the Twin Cities.
Ulrich, a longtime Buffalo resident, took a bus to the clinic from the Super 8 motel on Tuesday morning carrying a loaded Smith & Wesson semi-automatic handgun, two extra magazines in his pockets and a briefcase, according to a complaint filed Thursday by Wright County Attorney Brian Lutes.
He arrived at 10:52 a.m. and gave himself up to police when they arrived five minutes later. In that time, he shot five clinic staff members and detonated three improvised explosive devices at the clinic, Lutes said later.
Another device, found near his briefcase, was undetonated. Made with black powder and a fuse ignition, according to the complaint, an examination by bomb squads from the Minneapolis and Bloomington police departments revealed that the undetonated device was similar to two exploded bombs.
At a press conference, Lutes mentioned a fourth device, clarifying that investigators only determined that a third bomb was detonated late Wednesday night and that he was not aware of it at the time he drafted the complaint.
Nobody was injured by the explosions, but medical assistant Lindsay Overbay was shot and died after being transported to Hennepin County Medical Center. Four other injured staff members survived, but three of them are still in the hospital, according to the complaint. Allina Health identified one of the wounded as licensed practical nurse Sherry Curtis, but has declined to disclose the seriousness of her injuries or the identities of the three other injured staff members.
Asked about whether there were more victims, Wright County Sheriff Derringer said “we’re still working through that.”
Ulrich was arrested at the scene and appeared in court Thursday morning before Wright County District Judge Michele Davis. According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, he appeared in a wheelchair from jail and spoke only to confirm Davis’ pronunciation of his name and to decline to say any more. Davis set bail for Ulrich at $10 million without conditions and $5 million with conditions.
When the Wright County Sheriff’s Office searched Ulrich’s home, they found another pound of gunpowder in a shed on the property, the complaint said. A search of the Super 8 yielded an empty box of 9-millimeter ammunition.
The complaint did not say anything about Ulrich’s motives for the attack, but noted that officers found “a rambling video message that alluded to an incident at the clinic” on his cellphone. At the press conference, Lutes said the message referred to Ulrich’s own injuries and appeared to have been filmed shortly before the attack.
“It certainly shows his premeditation and his intent to go to that clinic to inflict damage,” he said.
CNN reported Wednesday that Ulrich had made threats against the health care center as early as 2018, citing a police report. A doctor at the clinic reported that Ulrich had repeatedly called the center to detail “different scenarios of how to get revenge” against the clinic.
Ulrich reportedly told police that he had only been “telling the doctor about his dreams,” which included revenge against people who “tortured” him with back surgeries and issues with medication after those surgeries. He was not charged at that time, but a harassment restraining order prevented him from entering the clinic shortly afterward. Ulrich pleaded guilty to violating that restraining order in 2019, but the case was dismissed last year after he was found incompetent.
In a Tuesday morning press conference, Lutes said that his office’s last interaction with Ulrich was in connection with a 2006 DWI charge. The restraining order and the violation were both misdemeanors, he said, handled by the Buffalo City Attorney’s Office.
Derringer said that his office’s more recent interactions with Ulrich were not actionable at the time.
“While I know that we’ve had previous threats by Mr. Ulrich, I want you to know that there’s been nothing recent, in the past several months or even a year, that we would have been aware of where we would have taken immediate action to try to circumvent or prevent what happened Tuesday morning,” he said. “If we are going to push blame, I would ask that we push blame where blame is due, and that’s on the suspect who decided to go into a Buffalo clinic to victimize people who are truly trying to help their communities.”
He also commended clinic staff for their quick response triaging victims and barricading the building, and law enforcement officers from his own and other agencies for their assistance in triage and their apprehension of the suspect.
“I could not be more proud, as the Wright County sheriff, of the staff of the Wright County Sheriff’s Office, the Buffalo Police Department, and the Minnesota State Patrol,” he said. “What I saw and witnessed that day was absolutely nothing short of heroic.”