On Wednesday afternoon, June 28, the UW Academic Medical Center and the community at large suffered the tragic loss of Dr. Rodger Haggitt and Dr. Jian Chen. Dr. Haggitt was a UW professor of pathology and director of anatomic pathology at UW Medical Center. Dr. Chen was a UW second-year resident in pathology. The two physicians had been meeting in Dr. Haggitt's office when Dr. Chen fired a pistol several times. Both died at the scene.
This was an unprecedented tragedy at the UW Academic Medical Center. We are trying to understand as best we can why this act occurred and what we can learn for the future.
Many questions have been asked about the circumstances leading to the shooting. Dr. Chen had been told several months ago that his contract for the 2001 academic year would not be renewed, and he was encouraged to seek a training program that would be a better fit for him. At that point he demonstrated anxiety about his future. Faculty, fellow residents and staff offered him support, counseling and other help.
As far as we know, Dr. Chen did not make any specific threats to anyone, nor did he make any known threats to Dr. Haggitt, whom he admired. Dr. Haggitt had tried to help Dr. Chen and mentor him in his career. It is clear, however, that those who worked with Dr. Chen were concerned about his safety and their own.
The UW School of Medicine and the UW Medical Center have never suffered a tragedy of this nature. Although this was a unique event in our history, everyone responded in both a caring and professional manner. At no point was the safety of our patients or other staff threatened during this incident, which did not take place in a patient-care area. The medical center received assistance from the UW police and the Seattle Police Department in responding to this situation, and they are continuing to investigate the incident.
Counselors are available to our students, residents, faculty, staff and volunteers who are understandably distressed by these events. I would like to express my deep gratitude for the support the people at our institution and in the community have shown to one another during this difficult time. I would also like to offer my personal support and condolences to the grieving families, friends, and colleagues.
More information will be available in the near future regarding remembrances and memorials.
Paul Ramsey, M.D.
Vice President for Medical Affairs
And Dean of the School of Medicine