West Palm Beach, Fl. (CW69 News at 10pm)
– Today, federal district judge Kenneth A. Marra committed a man who fired gunshots inside a West Palm Beach VA Medical Center to the custody of the U.S. Attorney General for 25 years of mental health care and treatment at a suitable medical facility. The commitment is a provisional sentence for sixty-year old defendant Larry Ray Bon, a former West Palm Beach resident. If during Bon’s commitment, it is determined that he no longer needs treatment, Bon will reappear in federal court, where a judge will sentence him to a federal prison term of between 12.5 and 25 years. Lawyers for the U.S. and Bon jointly recommended this provisional sentence arrangement for the defendant.
Ariana Fajardo Orshan, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, FBI’s Miami Field Office, and David Spilker, Special Agent in Charge, Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General, made the announcement.
According to court records, Bon brought the firearm and ammunition to the emergency room of the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in West Palm Beach, Florida. When he became frustrated with medical staff, Bon retrieved the firearm from his wheelchair, and fired several shots. He placed VA Medical Center employees in fear for their lives, including two employees who were near Bon. An emergency room doctor attempted to disarm Bon, who fired the gun again, hitting the doctor in the neck. Despite being injured, the doctor was still able to disarm Bon. VA Medical Center staff then subdued Bon. The doctor survived the gunshot wound.
On March 13, 2020, Bon pleaded guilty to three counts of Assaulting, Resisting, or Impeding Federal Employees, and one count of Possession of a Firearm in a Federal Facility with Intent to Commit a Crime. Federal law allows for a provisional sentence that commits a defendant to the custody of the Attorney General for treatment where a judge “finds by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant is presently suffering from a mental disease or defect and that he should, in lieu of being sentenced to imprisonment, be committed to a suitable facility…” 18 U.S.C. §4244 (d).
“When U.S. military veterans walk through the doors of a VA medical clinic for healing, they should feel comfort and hope, not fear of violence,” said Ariana Fajardo Orshan, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida. “We are committed to protecting our cherished veterans and the dedicated employees of the South Florida VA medical clinics who treat them.”
“As detailed in the plea agreement and subsequent sentence, Bon’s dangerous actions injured VA employees and risked the safety and well-being of veterans. VA OIG is committed to holding accountable anyone who commits an act of violence at a VA facility and ensuring that both veterans and employees have a safe environment to obtain quality healthcare,” said David Spilker, Special Agent in Charge, Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General.