Crime

Moment of Silence Planned for Nurse, Social Worker Killed in Methodist Dallas Medical Center Shooting

Three healthcare professionals, including Methodist Dallas Medical Center's Jaqueline Pokuaa and Katie Flowers, were killed at their place of work last week, according to the American Nurses Association.
Three healthcare professionals, including Methodist Dallas Medical Center's Jaqueline Pokuaa and Katie Flowers, were killed at their place of work last week, according to the American Nurses Association. Michael Förtsch on Unsplash
On Saturday, Oct. 22, 30-year-old Nestor Hernandez allegedly shot and killed two employees at Methodist Dallas Medical Center, 45-year-old Jaqueline Pokuaa, a nurse, and 63-year-old Katie Flowers, a social worker.

The Dallas-Fort Worth Hospital Council is asking all of its member hospitals to observer a minute of silence for Pokuaa and Flowers today starting at noon.

The alleged killer, Hernandez, was on parole and wearing a court-ordered ankle monitor on the day of the attack. In the immediate aftermath of the shooting, people questioned how Hernandez could walk the streets given his multiple prior felony convictions and the aggravated robbery he was on parole for.

Dallas Police Department Chief Eddie Garcia issued a statement saying his department will do everything possible to assist in the investigation of the shooting, and called it “an abhorrent failure of our criminal justice system,” referring to Hernadez’s criminal history.

Based on a statement on Tuesday from Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot, it seems some are trying to attribute this failure to his office, despite it having nothing to do with Hernandez being on parole. “I remain sickened, stunned, and heartbroken by the senseless shooting at Methodist Hospital,” Creuzot said in an emailed statement Monday.

“Adding to the disturbing nature of this crime, it has been reported that the suspect, Mr. Nestor Hernandez, was on parole at the time of the shootings and was ordered to wear an electronic ankle monitor as a condition of his parole,” he said. “Despite reports to the contrary, parole decisions and conditions are not made by the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office or any judicial officer of Dallas County but by the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles.”

"I remain sickened, stunned, and heartbroken by the senseless shooting at Methodist Hospital." – Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot

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So far, an investigation by the Methodist Health System Police Department and DPD found that Hernandez went to the hospital that day to visit his partner after she gave birth to their child. The warrant for Hernandez’s arrest, obtained by WFAA, says that he accused his girlfriend at the hospital of cheating on him. After checking to see if anyone else was in the room, Hernandez hit his girlfriend in the head several times with a handgun, according to the arrest warrant.

That’s when Pokuaa entered the room and Hernandez shot her. Flowers tried to look into the room from the hallway after hearing the gunshot, according to DPD. When she did, Hernandez allegedly shot her from the doorway.

Methodist Medical System Sgt. Robert Rangel was just a few doors down, looking into a stolen property call, when he heard the shots. He saw Flowers get shot, took cover and requested help on his radio. According to DPD, Hernandez reloaded his weapon and started to exit the room. When Rangel saw Hernandez in the hallway with his gun still in hand, according to DPD, he shot the suspect once in the leg. Hernandez retreated back into the room. After a standoff with police, Hernandez was taken into custody.

His girlfriend was treated for her injuries and her newborn was not injured during the attack. The day of the shooting, Methodist Health System Police Department asked DPD for help investigating the double homicide, an investigation that is ongoing.

Hernandez was on parole for his part in a 2015 aggravated robbery. An indictment obtained by KERA details the robbery, explaining that Hernandez and an accomplice assaulted a woman at her apartment and left with her phone, car and $3,000 in cash from a school fundraiser. He has been convicted of multiple felonies since 2011.

This criminal history could have led to a harsher sentence for Hernandez in the 2015 aggravated robbery, had it not been for a plea deal, according to KERA. He also had a 2012 conviction reduced from aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon to robbery through a plea agreement.

So, who’s to blame for what DPD Chief Garcia called “an abhorrent failure of our criminal justice system”?

Embroiled in midterm elections, some may want to point the finger at officials belonging to the political party they oppose. But it’s not that simple. According to WFAA, the district attorney in Hernandez’s 2012 case was a Democrat. The district attorney over the 2015 case was a Republican. And the parole board that let Hernandez out in October last year was appointed by Gov. Greg Abbott.

The parole division of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice looks into parole plans for inmates, tracks cases eligible for parole and submits them to the Board of Pardons and Paroles.

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice said in an emailed statement that Hernandez was released from prison to continue the rest of his sentence in the community. As a condition of his parole, he was required to stay home and wear an ankle monitor. He could leave only for approved activities such as work or, in this case, a hospital visit to see a newborn child.

“Parole supervision allows those previously incarcerated to transition back into their community, which includes visiting family members in hospitals,” the agency said. “There was not an indication that Hernandez would act out violently in a hospital, and allowing him the ability to visit loved ones in that setting would not be out of the normal course of supervision.”
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Jacob Vaughn, a former Brookhaven College journalism student, has written for the Observer since 2018, first as clubs editor. More recently, he's been in the news section as a staff writer covering City Hall, the Dallas Police Department and whatever else editors throw his way.
Contact: Jacob Vaughn

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