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Man Under Observation After Holding Eight Hospital Workers Hostage

February 24, 1985

WARE, Mass. (AP) _ An injured man described as agitated and incoherent was under psychiatric observation Sunday after he held eight hospital employees at gunpoint for two hours before being overpowered by two women, police said.

The man was tackled by a doctor and nurse shortly before midnight Saturday in Mary Lane Hospital’s emergency room, where he had fired at least seven bullets from his M-14 rifle, officials said. No injuries were reported in the incident.

Matthew A. Kelley, 21, was taken to Bridgewater State Hospital for observation after his arrest on charges of kidnapping and two counts of assault with intent to murder, said state police Trooper John Busa.

The incident began when police received a report of a disturbance at Kelley’s home around 9:15 p.m. and arrived to find him holding a hostage at gunpoint in the driveway, said West Brookfield Police Chief John S. Zabek Jr.

Kelley and the hostage left in a pickup truck, beginning a chase to the hospital, said Zabek.

Kelley, who had suffered a badly cut hand earlier Saturday, appeared disoriented by loss of blood and almost passed out several times, said Donna M. Chouinard, one of the hostages.

He never directly threatened the hostages, but frequently pointed his rifle in their direction, she said.

″He was very confused. He had lost a lot of blood,″ said Ms. Chouinard. ″When I gave him a class of orange juice, he made me sip it first. He thought we were going to try to drug him.″

The gunman was subdued by Dr. Laura Plasse and nurse Kay Maxon, who tackled him when he appeared faint, said William J. Zwemke, executive director of the hospital. A maintenance man, Charles Russell, then wrested the rifle from the gunman, Zwemke said.

A man who identified himself as Kelley’s brother told hospital employees later that Kelley had fought with his mother earlier in the day and had put his hand through a piece of glass, said Ms. Chouinard.

When police arrived at Kelley’s house, ″He was agitated, incoherent,″ said Zabek. ″This was a miracle that nobody got hurt.″

He said Kelley forced the hostage into the man’s pickup, and police followed. At one point, Kelley stopped the truck and flagged down a passing car, Zabek said. Kelley released a woman passenger, and the driver of the car and the first hostage fled. Kelley drove to the hospital alone, he said.

During the chase, Kelley fired several shots at cruisers, police said. One bullet went through a police car windshield, over the head of a trooper and out the rear window, police said.

Zabek said police recovered a half-empty 50-pound box of M-14 cartridges from the car that was taken to the hospital. Police counted seven bullet holes at the hospital - five in a window, one in the admission desk and one in a floor.

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