VA hospital shooting victim dies

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - NBC12 has confirmed that the victim, James Stephenson Lee, died Wednesday evening. The suspect in a shooting at the McGuire VA Medical Center has been identified as 55-year-old Cornelius Hayes of Blackstone. Hospital officials confirm that he is an employee at the hospital. He is charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

The FBI is now investigating the shooting that nearly killed a man in the veterans hospital parking lot Wednesday morning. Investigators surrounded the parking lot around 7:15 a.m. after police say a man was shot in the head and left eye while standing in the area of lot 6C. Hospital officials say it's usually where volunteers park. Wednesday morning, crime scene tape blocked the entrance.

State police arrested the suspect after 8:30 a.m. several miles south near Route 10 and I-295 in Chesterfield. He was driving a blue Ford pickup truck. Police did not release the motive of the shooting, but they can confirm it's not a random shooting.

"We're not ready to characterize it as a domestic or anything," said Richmond Police Public Information Manager Gene Lepley. "We don't know the relationship between the suspect and the victim. We're still working our way through that."

Police say EMS crews rushed Lee to VCU Medical Center with life threatening injuries and that he was not able to communicate on scene.

"This certainly is an unfortunate incident that occurs in our world and community," said McGuire VA Medical Center Public Information Officer Darlene Edwards. "It's unfortunate it happened here today."

Edwards says she can't remember anything like this happening here before. As local, state, and federal investigators worked the scene, business went on as usual at the VA hospital.

"Certainly the medical center is fully operational, and we will continue to care for our nation's heroes today," Edwards added.

In the meantime, investigators are interviewing witnesses and gathering surveillance video to find any additional clues in the shooting.

"There may be," said Lepley. "We're still working our way through that to see who may be involved at this point and who may have been nearby."

Since the medical center is on federal grounds, the FBI and US Attorney's Office will handle the investigation.

Hayes was previously convicted for assault and battery of a law enforcement officer and for discharging a firearm at an occupied building in Oct. 2011, according to the affidavit. He faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, if convicted.

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