Distraught son shoots elderly mother’s surgeon at Johns Hopkins, then kills her, himself

By Sarah Brumfield, AP
Friday, September 17, 2010

Mother, son dead at Johns Hopkins, doctor shot

BALTIMORE — Paul Warren Pardus listened as a Johns Hopkins Hospital surgeon updated him on the condition of his elderly mother who likely would never walk again. Overwhelmed, he pulled a gun from his waistband, wounded the doctor, then barricaded himself in his 84-year-old mother’s hospital room before killing her and himself, authorities said.

“I guess he just couldn’t bear to see her the way she was,” said Pardus’ brother 59-year-old Alvin Gibson.

The doctor, identified by colleagues as orthopedic surgeon David B. Cohen, was shot in the abdomen and collapsed Thursday afternoon outside the eighth-floor room where Pardus’ mother was being treated. He was expected to survive.

Jean Davis was being crippled by arthritis and rheumatism and had surgery last week at the world-renowned cancer hospital, but it didn’t go well, said Gibson of Remington, Va. It was unclear what sort of operation was performed.

“I guess because he thought my mom was suffering because the surgery wasn’t successful and she probably wouldn’t be able to walk again,” Gibson said about a possible reason for his 50-year-old brother’s actions. “She was a dear, sweet lady. She just wanted to walk around like she did when she was younger.”

Pardus holed up in the room in a more than two-hour standoff that led authorities to lock down a small section of the Nelson Building while allowing the rest of the sprawling red-brick medical complex — a cluster of hospital, research and education buildings — to remain open.

When officers made their way into the room, they found Pardus and his mother shot to death, he on the floor, she in her bed.

Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III said Pardus had been listening to the surgeon around midday when he “became emotionally distraught and reacted … and was overwhelmed by the news of his mother’s condition.”

Gibson said he learned of their deaths while watching coverage of the shooting at a friend’s house and “was really torn up inside.”

Pardus was from Arlington, Va., and had a handgun permit in that state, police said. He was initially identified as Warren Davis, but police later changed that. Gibson said his brother had legally changed his name from Davis to Pardus, but he did not know why.

Pardus had worked as a driver for MetroAccess, which provides rides for disabled passengers in the Washington, D.C., region, but the subcontractor that employed him, Diamond Transportation, said he had been on leave since June.

Next-door neighbor Teresa Green said Davis had been hospitalized for months and that Pardus had been a fixture at her bedside. He appeared to be his mother’s sole caretaker, she said.

“He loved his mother. That really showed,” Green said.

The wounded doctor, an assistant professor at the medical school, underwent surgery.

“The doctor will be OK,” police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said. “He’s in the best place in the world — at Johns Hopkins Hospital.”

Hopkins, a world-class institution, is widely known for its cancer research and treatment. It is part of Johns Hopkins University, which has one of the foremost medical schools in the world.

Cohen’s neighbor in Cockeysville, Md., couldn’t believe it when she heard about what happened.

“It was very scary,” Jennifer Wickwire said. “It’s very upsetting to think it’s somebody from this area.”

The hospital uses handheld metal detectors to screen patients and visitors known to be high-risk, said Harry Koffenberger, vice president of security. However, with 80 entrances and 80,000 visitors a week, it is not realistic to place metal detectors and guards everywhere.

“Not in a health-care setting,” Koffenberger said. The hospital will review procedures and look again at the use of metal detectors, he said.

Gibson said his brother had never been in trouble and didn’t mess around with guns, though when they were young, he liked to hunt and fish.

Thomas Robinson, 67, had known Jean Davis since he was a child.

“She used to be quite a horsewoman when she was young,” he said. But she was not able to get around too well on her own in recent years. “She was in good spirits, but she was getting weaker all the time.”

Robinson, who is Gibson’s neighbor, was perplexed by Pardus’ actions.

“Why would he blame the doctor?” he asked. “That’s what I don’t understand.”

Associated Press writers Alex Dominguez, Ben Nuckols and Kathleen Miller in Baltimore, Matthew Barakat in Arlington, Va., and Medical Writer Marilynn Marchione in Milwaukee contributed to this report.

will not be displayed