Crime, Law and Justice

Charges against alleged health clinic shooter detail terror at the scene

Law enforcement outside a health clinic.
Law enforcement officers from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives canvas the area outside an Allina Health clinic after a shooting Tuesday in Buffalo, Minn.
Stephen Maturen | Getty Images

Updated: Feb. 12, 6:10 p.m. | Posted: Feb. 11, 4 a.m.

Police responding to reports of an active shooter Tuesday at a Buffalo, Minn., health clinic came upon a horrific scene with victims screaming for help, windows shattered from explosions and the smell of burned gunpowder in the air.

In the clinic’s entryway lay Gregory Paul Ulrich, his arms spread out, ready to be arrested.

Those were some of the details prosecutors laid out Thursday as they charged Ulrich, 67, with seven counts in the deadly attack, including second-degree intentional murder and first-degree premeditated attempted murder.

Five clinic employees were wounded. One died.

Ulrich walked into Allina “knowing that he was going to shoot up that clinic … knowing that he was going to explode bombs at the clinic,” Wright County Attorney Brian Lutes told reporters after the charges were filed.

A man in a suit talks at a podium in front of microphones.
After filing murder and attempted murder charges against Gregory Ulrich Thursday morning, Wright County Attorney Brian Lutes told reporters he would “aggressively prosecute” him.
Matt Sepic | MPR News

Lutes said that Ulrich went before a judge Thursday morning and unconditional bail was set at $10 million, $5 million with conditions. He called Ulrich’s alleged actions “cowardly” and vowed to “aggressively prosecute” him.

Three victims of the shooting were treated at North Memorial Hospital. The hospital noted that as of 10:30 a.m. on Thursday that “one victim is in fair condition and two are in good condition.”

‘Rambling video message’

According to the criminal filing, Ulrich took local public transit to the clinic. Walking in, staff asked if he needed help. He pulled out a 9 mm semiautomatic handgun and starting shooting people around him, some as they fled in terror. One victim suffered six gunshot wounds.

Investigators said Ulrich also detonated three bombs in the clinic. Members of the Minneapolis bomb squad also found a cylinder filled with black powder and a fuse, but unexploded, matching in detail the remnants of another detonated bomb

The complaint says police found Ulrich was carrying nearly 50 more rounds of ammunition, including a loaded pistol magazine, when he was arrested.

Officials found a message on Ulrich’s cellphone that appeared to be recorded just before he walked into the clinic. “It was a rambling message where he talked about his own injuries,” Lutes said. “It certainly shows his premeditation and his intent to go to that clinic to inflict damage.”

Lindsay Overbay, 37, a medical assistant at the clinic, died in the Tuesday incident, her family and Allina confirmed. Allina has also identified three other staff members injured, licensed practical nurse Sherry Curtis, clinic business representative Tammy Schaufler and licensed practical nurse Antonya Fransen-Pruden. The other victim was not identified.

Gregory Paul Ulrich
Gregory Paul Ulrich was arrested Tuesday following a shooting at a health clinic in Buffalo, Minn.
Wright County Sheriff's Office via AP

Hours after the shooting, Buffalo’s police chief and the Wright County sheriff said that Ulrich was no stranger to law enforcement, and they’d had contact with him going back to 2003.

Chief Pat Budke said Ulrich did not like the way staff at the clinic had treated him, but there was nothing in his history to indicate that he’d perpetrate the sort of attack he’s alleged to have carried out.

In 2018, a doctor at the Allina clinic got a restraining order against Ulrich. According to the document, 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 supporting the restraining order, a nurse at Buffalo Hospital said Ulrich once approached the front desk and started yelling after asking for a copy of his medical records.

Prosecutors charged Ulrich in November 2018 with a misdemeanor count of violating the restraining order. The case languished in court for about 18 months as judges tried to get Ulrich to cooperate with a psychological evaluation.

He finally did. And early last year a judge found Ulrich mentally incompetent to face charges, so prosecutors dropped the case.

Sheriff can’t speak to questions around gun permit

One of the documents in the criminal case indicates that Ulrich tried to buy a gun in the summer of 2019, but Buffalo police had not approved his purchase permit. The court recommended that Ulrich not be allowed to use or possess any weapons because of the allegations in the restraining order.

Asked on Thursday about whether Ulrich had a gun permit, Wright County Sheriff Sean Deringer said permit data in Minnesota was private and a judge had denied a request to release any records. “I can’t even tell you that we don't have data or we do have data,” the sheriff said.

Within its investigation, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is examining how Ulrich obtained his weapon, said BCA Superintendent Drew Evans.

A police officer talks at a podium in front of microphones.
Wright County Sheriff Sean Deringer told reporters a judge declined a request to release any information on whether Gregory Ulrich had a weapons permit.
Matt Sepic | MPR News

Despite Ulrich’s history of conflict, Deringer said there was nothing in the past year involving Ulrich that would have led law enforcement to confront him about his behavior before Tuesday, and suggested the blame for what happened should be directed at Ulrich.

Lindsay Overbay, left, and her friend Naiya Stubbe
Lindsay Overbay, left, and her friend Naiya Stubbe. Overbay was killed in a mass shooting at an Allina Health clinic in Buffalo on Tuesday.
Courtesy of Naiya Stubbe

Overbay, who was killed in Tuesday’s shooting, leaves behind a husband and two children, 5 and 8 years old. Her friend Naiya Stubbe said the family is devastated.

"I want everyone to understand and know that the world lost a very beautiful person," Stubbe said.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to support Overbay’s children.

Among four others injured in the attack, one was discharged on Tuesday. The other three had initially been listed in critical condition, but as of Thursday morning two of them were listed in good condition, and the other in fair condition.

Asked by reporters on Thursday why Ulrich stopped shooting even though he had a lot of ammunition left, Deringer said he didn’t know but that those remaining had done an excellent job barricading themselves. “He may have run out of victims.”

Allina Health announced Thursday evening that it has established a fund for the victims and their families; the public can contribute to the fund online.

The health system says it will observe a moment of silence at all its facilities at noon Friday, in honor of the shooting victims.

Gov. Tim Walz has ordered flags in Minnesota to be flown at half-staff through sunset on Sunday in honor of the victims.

Watch: Prosecutor, law enforcement speak on clinic shooting, charges against Gregory Ulrich: