A Bronx hospital became the latest battleground in a city plagued by gun violence when a man was shot Tuesday near the emergency room waiting area of Jacobi Medical Center, police and sources said.
Reuben Perez, 35, was at the hospital around 12:30 p.m. waiting to be seen by medical staff for a previous injury.
Video showed Perez standing on one side of a hospital reception area. A man some feet away at a reception desk complained that Perez had exchanged looks with him.
“What the f--- are you looking at?” the armed man allegedly said, according to a police source.
The gunman lunged in Perez’s direction and started shooting. He fired four times and hit Perez in the left forearm, said police sources.
Panicked bystanders — including a woman carrying a child — quickly scattered, miraculously managing to avoid further bloodshed.
Perez was expected to recover. The suspect fled. There have been no arrests.
No one else was injured, police said.
Investigators were looking at surveillance videos for clues about the gunman and how the incident started.
“This was a cowardly act in a space where New Yorkers come for healing and care,” an NYC Health & Hospitals spokesman said in a statement.
“Our health care heroes swiftly took care of the shooting victim and took actions to protect the other patients in the waiting room,” the statement said. “Our immediate focus is on caring for the patient and ensuring the safety of our staff. We are working closely with the NYPD as they conduct their investigation.”
Last year, sources said, Perez was treated for a gunshot wound to the leg.
Jacobi’s doctors, nurses and staff often treat gunshot wounds. But the shots fired inside the building unsettled hospital workers and waiting-room patients.
“We were waiting, and we apparently heard all this commotion, and somebody said, ‘Oh, someone has a gun, someone has a gun,’” said Nancy Rivera, who was at Jacobi to visit her mother-in-law, and was with several family members when the violence erupted. “But we didn’t believe that that was actually happening.”
Rivera said she and her relatives had just gone to get visitor passes, and had been in the waiting area just minutes earlier.
“We felt safe, because where we were at, we were safe. Luckily we weren’t there previously,” she said. “If we would have been there 10 minutes prior, we would have been in the middle of the crossfire.”
Nancy Rivera’s brother-in-law, David Rivera, was visiting his mother on the fourth floor in the intensive care unit.
“On the intercom they said, ‘Active shooter.’ So after that, all the nurses started locking all the patients’ doors,” he said. “We couldn’t get out. So I was there for a good 40 minutes. But I saw the activity outside through the window, a whole bunch of cops putting up tape.”
His sister was downstairs, and worried she wouldn’t get up in time to see their mortally ill mother.
“We’re saying our goodbyes,” David Rivera said. “Hopefully, they’ll catch the guy. I doubt it. But this has to stop. This is ridiculous already what’s going on.”