Worried by dozens of telephone threats to doctors and nurses, police have tightened security at a hospital treating a man accused of murdering 35 people in a shooting and arson spree.
Police Commissioner John Johnson said Thursday that he was afraid one of the callers might try to attack staff at the Royal Hobart Hospital or get to the accused gunman, Martin Bryant, 28, who underwent surgery for extensive burns."We know that when incidents like that occur, it brings people out of the woodwork who have unusual personalities," Johnson said. "That's why I will maintain the tightest security at the hospital."
The hospital's chief executive, Lindsay Pyne, said more than 40 threats had been received since Bryant was brought there Monday. Most callers were angry that Bryant was receiving medical care.
Johnson said the state-owned telephone company would begin tracing threatening calls made to the hospital and that offenders would be arrested. He would not say what other security measures had been taken. Only a few officers were on guard outside the hospital.
The threats have scared staffers already stressed from long hours and the experience of treating horrifying wounds, Pyne said.
Some have stayed away from work. Dozens of other, Pyne said, are receiving counseling.
Bryant, who set fire to an inn where he had been holding three hostages, underwent plastic surgery for burns this morning. He will remain in the hospital for at least another week and could have more surgery before being transferred to a nearby prison.
Meanwhile, the government said Thursdayday that the bloodstained cafeteria where Bryant allegedly opened fire on sightseers and staff will be razed in deference to the wishes of victims' families and friends.
The Broad Arrow Cafe will not be demolished, however, until after Bryant's trial.
Blind gun-toter arrested in Melbourne
Police arrested a blind man who walked through the streets of Melbourne, Australia, Thursday with a semiautomatic gun and threatened staff at an institute for the blind.
The 28-year-old man, whose name was not released, was arrested inside the Royal Victorian Institute for the Blind.
Police seized the weapon, which he was licensed to own, and a bag of ammunition. He was taken to a police station for questioning and was expected to be charged later in the day.