Ellen Gilland is behind bars after her terminally ill husband was shot and killed in a hospital in Florida. She is being held without bond and faces several criminal charges, including first-degree murder.
Police responded to a 9-1-1 call at AdventHealth Daytona Beach at around 11:30 AM Saturday morning to find Gilland barricaded in her husband’s hospital room. The authorities said she used the gun on her husband because he was too weak to end his own life. She then intended to shoot herself but couldn’t go through with it. Her husband, 77-year-old Jerry Gilland, was the only patient in the room.
“Upon arrival, our officers were directed to the 11th floor, where they encountered an elderly female who had apparently shot her terminally ill husband,” said Daytona Beach police Chief Jakari Young.
Young said the couple made a murder-suicide pact three weeks prior to the incident.
“Apparently, because he was terminally ill, they had a conversation about it, and they actually planned this approximately three weeks ago that if he continued to take a turn for the worst that he wanted her to end this,” Young said. “Obviously, we’re unsure how she brought that gun into the hospital, but this was planned.”
A standoff occurred between Gilland and the police in the hallway. Hostage negotiators were called in to relieve the tension. It took several hours before Ellen finally agreed to open the door, at which point she was taken into custody.
Luckily, no one else was hurt. But the hospital said clearing the floor became a “logistical nightmare.”
“Because that 11th floor is made up of terminally ill patients, so pretty much all the patients on that floor are on ventilators,” Young said.
An affidavit states that Gilland waived the gun at multiple witnesses and demanded that they get out of the room.
“She never put the gun down, so she never specifically made a threat that she was going to shoot any of us, but she never put the gun down,” Young said. “So, we would have to assume that, you know, if we were to rush in there, we didn’t effectively communicate that it could have turned into a shootout situation.”
The police ended up having to distract her to get her to drop the gun.
“It’s called a flash bang that the SWAT team uses,” Young said. “They use it. It just makes a loud noise. It’s like a — pretty sure you’re familiar with that. So, they threw in a flash bang to distract her, and luckily it worked.”
Gilland fired a shot into the ceiling before the police could disarm her. The entire stand off took over three hours.
“It’s a tough situation, so her husband (was) terminally ill, so she was already in a depressed state just based on her husband being terminally ill and knowing that the end was near,” Young said.
The staff at AdventHealth say they are still in shock. “One of the staff came running in like clearly very agitated, saying this is not a drill,” said Dr. Joshua Horenstein, a private practice cardiologist at the hospital.
“We don’t really know — what do we do with a lockdown?” Horenstein said after the incident. At first, the nurses received a code yellow, which indicates a bomb threat or active shooter.
And then the staff got a code silver, which told them to shelter in place.
“At that point, we’re thinking it’s a little bit more serious but still not sure what to do,” Horenstein said. He waited in the supply closet with several nurses until the shooting was over.
“I went to the security guard because I still had 20 patients to see in the hospital, various floors to go around on that I hadn’t gotten to do, but it was just shut down,” Horenstein said.
It’s still not clear how a firearm got into the hospital.
“Hospitals tend to be open, and they tend to have a lot of entrances and exits,” Ben Scaglione, a health care security expert, said.
“When you have a metal detector, you have to staff it,” Scaglione said. “Historically, hospitals have had them in the emergency department because that seems to be the most volatile area. In health care, generally, you train them (in) the same scenario — run, hide and fight.”
Horenstein said the experience made him realize how important it is to have the proper training in these kinds of situations.
“It might’ve been nice to know if I got a shelter-in-place alarm like what I should’ve done because I’ve never personally – I don’t believe – maybe it was part of a video training I did 10 years ago, but nothing that strikes memory of what I was actually supposed to do,” Horenstein said.
The hospital commented on the tragedy in a public statement. “We are devastated by the tragedy that unfolded at the AdventHealth Daytona Beach campus today, and our prayers are with those impacted. We are grateful for the Daytona Beach Police Department in helping ensure the safety of our patients, team members and visitors.”