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VA hospital shooter faces host of additional charges

Larry Ray Bon (Photo from Bon's Facebook page/TNS)

A disabled veteran now faces multiple charges that could send him to prison for decades in connection with a February shooting at the VA Medical Center in Riviera Beach.

In an indictment unsealed last week, 60-year-old Larry Ray Bon was charged with three counts of assaulting a federal employee, along with charges of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, possession of a firearm in a federal facility and discharging a firearm during a crime of violence.

Previously, the double amputee who served briefly in the U.S. Army in the 1970s, was charged only with a single count of assault with a deadly weapon.

Bon, who uses a wheelchair, was arrested immediately after the Feb. 27 shooting in the hospital’s emergency room. A doctor, who wrested the gun away, was shot in the neck. An orderly was hit by a stray bullet. Both survived.

Another employee, identified in the indictment only as “C.D.” was also injured in the mayhem, federal prosecutors said.

Since Bon’s arrest, concerns have been raised about his mental health.

U.S. Magistrate William Matthewman delayed several of Bon’s court appearances to give federal prosecutors time to review what he described as Bon’s “voluminous medical records” along with an expert’s opinion about the veteran’s mental state at the time of the shooting.

Appearing briefly in court on Friday, Bon pleaded not guilty to the new charges that carry decades-long prison sentences. He was returned to the St. Lucie County Jail where he is receiving medical treatment.

Bon, who lost one of his legs to an infection and another in a car accident, came to the hospital on Blue Heron Boulevard to see his doctor.

Noting that Bon seemed agitated, the physician sent him to the emergency room to be evaluated under the state’s Baker Act. It allows people to be involuntarily committed for 72 hours if they are deemed to be a threat to themselves or others.

After waiting for hours, Bon pulled out a gun and began shooting.

His mother later told The Palm Beach Post that Bon had struggled with mental illness since his teens. He moved to West Palm Beach in 2016 rather than face charges in Michigan after he was arrested for trying to sell a taser.

At previous hearings, Matthewman said Bon appeared to be competent to stand trial. Bon was “lucid, understood what was going on during the hearing, and directly answered all of the court’s questions,” he wrote.


© 2019 The Palm Beach Post