Prosecutor: Alleged Health clinic shooter to face murder, explosives charges

Law enforcement outside a health clinic.
A Wright County Sheriff vehicle is seen parked outside the Allina Health clinic in Buffalo, Minn., after a shooting on Tuesday.
Kerem Yucel | AFP via Getty Images

Updated 6:40 p.m.

Wright County prosecutors said Wednesday they’re drafting murder and explosives charges against Gregory Paul Ulrich, the man suspected of fatally shooting one and injuring several others Tuesday at a Buffalo, Minn., clinic.

Wright County Attorney Brian Lutes vowed to "aggressively prosecute Ulrich for this horrible crime and the pain he caused to the victims, their families and the entire community."

In a statement, Lutes said he intends to charge Ulrich with second-degree intentional murder, four counts of attempted first-degree premeditated murder and possession of explosive or incendiary devices.

Gregory Paul Ulrich
Gregory Paul Ulrich.
Wright County Sheriff's Office via AP

Ulrich, 67, was arrested in Tuesday's attack at an Allina clinic in Buffalo, a community of about 15,000 people roughly 40 miles northwest of Minneapolis.

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He remained jailed in Wright County on Wednesday and was expected to appear in court Thursday.

Law enforcement officials haven't ascribed motives to the shooting. However, court documents show that in 2018 Ulrich was ordered to stay away from the clinic and one of the physicians who practices there.

According to the restraining order, Ulrich allegedly stated that "killing one individual wouldn't be enough," and he intended to "create enough of a sensation to get public recognition that would warrant at least 30 years in jail and possibly a straight jacket."

In an affidavit accompanying the restraining order, a nurse at Buffalo Hospital said Ulrich approached the front desk and started yelling after asking for a copy of his medical records.

Prosecutors later charged Ulrich with violating the restraining order, but dropped the case last year after a judge found him mentally incompetent.

A man in a suit speaks into microphones.
Wright County Attorney Brian Lutes speaks at a press conference about an attack on an Allina Health clinic in Buffalo, Minn., on Tuesday.
Evan Frost | MPR News

Ulrich has a long history of conflict with medical clinics in the area and had been unhappy with the care he had received, Buffalo Police Chief Pat Budke said.

Budke said Tuesday that Ulrich’s history led investigators to believe he was targeting the clinic or someone inside but that it was too early in the investigation to know if it was a specific doctor.

‘She lived and breathed for her children’

The victims — all Allina employees — were rushed to hospitals following the attack. An HCMC spokesperson Tuesday night said that a person brought there after being shot at the Buffalo clinic had died.

Lindsay Overbay and her husband Donnie Overbay
This submitted photo, taken about eight years ago, shows Lindsay Overbay and her husband Donnie Overbay.
Courtesy of Donnie Overbay

A family member of the victim on Wednesday confirmed to MPR News that 37-year-old Lindsay Overbay was killed Tuesday in the Buffalo clinic shooting.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to support Overbay’s two children, 5 and 8 years old.

Overbay’s friend, Naiya Stubbe, said her friend lived to be a caretaker, at home and at work. The family is devastated, Stubbe said.

“Her laugh was contagious,” Stubbe said. “She was a wonderful person and she was the best mother. And she lived and breathed for her children.”

Overbay worked for Allina as a medical assistant since November 2018, the health care system said in a statement Wednesday. Another Allina employee, Sherry Curtis, a licensed practical nurse, was also injured in the attack.

One of the victims was discharged on Tuesday. The conditions of two of the three who remained hospitalized at North Memorial Health Hospital in Robbinsdale were upgraded from critical to fair and good condition. The third remained in critical condition.

Ulrich well known to cops

During a search of the clinic, investigators found a suspicious device and evacuated the building, Wright County Sheriff Sean Deringer said.

It was not immediately clear whether that device exploded, but TV footage showed several shattered plate-glass windows at the clinic. Deringer said suspicious devices were also found at a local Super 8 motel where Ulrich had been staying, and there were at least two shattered windows there as well.

Deringer said Ulrich was well known to law enforcement before the attack, and there were calls for service dating back to 2003.

A court services agent who conducted a pre-sentence investigation wrote in a June 2019 filing that he had just learned that Ulrich had applied to police for a “permit to purchase” — apparently meaning a permit to buy a gun — but had not yet been approved. The agent said he “highly recommended” that Ulrich “not be allowed to have use of or possession of any dangerous weapons or firearms as a condition of his probation.”

Court records for Ulrich list a handful of arrests and convictions for drunken driving and possession of small amounts of marijuana from 2004 through 2015, mostly in Wright County, including two convictions for gross misdemeanor drunken driving that resulted in short jail sentences.

While police have said they had multiple run-ins with Ulrich, one security expert says it’s not clear whether police could have done more to prevent Tuesday’s attack.

“When their deputies responded to calls with him, they were probably already on guard,” said Rich Stanek, a former Hennepin County sheriff who now runs a public safety consulting firm. “But tracking him day to day? Not so much. The courts are going to have to figure out what happened. When he got arrested, if he suffered from mental illness, did they just make a referral and let it go?”

Stanek said another issue is what the clinic did to protect its employees and patients: “There’s no question the clinic had an obligation to protect, especially if there were recent threats.”

The health system said in a statement that while Tuesday's shooting appears to be isolated, it has increased security at its facilities.

Ulrich also had raised concerns at a local church. According to an August 2019 update on the Zion Lutheran Church's website, the church said it had obtained a no trespassing order for Ulrich after the pastor received a disturbing letter. Church staff were given a picture of Ulrich and told to call 911 if he appeared on any of the church's properties.

The Associated Press and MPR News reporter Brandt Williams contributed to this report.