TDH – CAY HILL–Chaos erupted at the Yogesh building early Wednesday when gynaecologist/obstetrician Dr. Randall Friday was shot as he made his way to his Women’s Health Services (WHS) clinic located on the second floor of the building around 8:30am.
Friday’s partner Erica Fortuno told this newspaper the 38-year-old gynaecologist and businessman had been shot twice in the passageway leading to his office. One of the bullets grazed Friday’s leg and the other penetrated the side of his body Fortuno said.
Friday was shot from behind close to the entrance of his clinic. He collapsed after being shot.
A number of persons, some of whom are believed to be his patients, were outside the clinic’s entrance on the second floor when the two shots were fired at Friday. It is believed he was followed from his vehicle, then shot, after which the shooter fled.
The clinic was packed with patients waiting to be seen by the gynaecologist/obstetrician. Persons who were outside the clinic scrambled for cover after hearing the shots, some running into the clinic, while patients who were inside started running to the back of the clinic in a rush for safety. It is believed that patients did not see the shooter from their vantage point, though this could not be confirmed.
Friday’s nurse responded to the commotion by going outside to see what had transpired and saw Dr. Friday on the ground. Friday told his nurse he thought he had been shot, the nurse grabbed her keys and rushed him to St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) where he underwent surgery to remove the bullet from his side and to determine the extent of his injuries, Fortuno said. The doctor had walked to the car that transported him to the hospital.
Friday was in stable condition when he arrived at the hospital, police spokesperson Inspector Ricardo Henson said in a police press release issued mid-afternoon Wednesday.
Friday called Fortuno just after the incident and told her he had been shot and she should meet him at SMMC. He also called other close family members.
By the time the news of the shooting spread a large number of family members and friends had gathered at SMMC for news on the wounded doctor. “This [shooting – Ed.] came out of nowhere,” Fortuno said, adding that the incident had left many persons traumatised.
The shooting has left many in the community, including Friday’s patients, in disbelief and shock. Workers in offices located in the Yogesh Building were also shocked at the brazen daylight assault. One person expressed concern about the safety of the building in which the shooting took place, describing the area where the stairs are located as an “unpleasant area” that cannot be avoided as there are no elevators in the building.
Friday was out of the operating room by late last night and in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for recovery and observation. Henson said in the release that Friday was “stable and doing well.”
SMMC has taken measures to cater to the continuity of care of Friday’s patients (see related story).
Both Henson and Prosecutor Tineke N.M. Kamps confirmed that Friday had been shot in separate e-mails to the media yesterday.
Henson said several police patrols, detectives and paramedics had been sent to the Yogesh Building on A.J.C. Brouwer Road around 8:45am, shortly after the shooting. On the scene the investigating officers spoke to witnesses who confirmed that the victim was the gynaecologist.
Henson said Friday had been taken to SMMC in a private vehicle before the ambulance arrived on the scene. He said the scene had been secured by the police immediately, allowing the Forensic Department to start collecting evidence.
No one had been identified or arrested as a possible suspect in this case up to press time. The investigation is in its preliminary stages and the police are requesting that anyone who may have any information in connection to this investigation come forward. Persons can contact the police at tel. 542-2222 ext. 222/224 or tip-line 9300 with whatever information they may have relating to this incident.
Friday became the first St. Maarten-born gynaecologist to operate in St. Maarten when he opened his modern health care facility, Women’s Health Services, in September 2008. He was also the youngest specialist to operate in the country when he opened his clinic. The former St. Maarten Academy student is the only gynaecologist to offer 3D and 4D ultrasounds at his clinic. He was also the first to perform gynaecological laparoscopic surgeries here.