A 67-year-old man with a “history of conflict” opened fire at a health clinic in Buffalo, Minnesota, Tuesday morning, leaving one person dead and four others injured, authorities said.
Police responded to a call at 10:54 a.m. local time warning of a “gun incident” at the Allina Clinic Crossroads, where they encountered a “horrible” crime scene, authorities said at a press conference Tuesday.
The suspect, identified as Gregory Ulrich, of Buffalo, was taken into custody, and five victims were hospitalized. One of them later died of their injuries, a spokesperson for the Hennepin County Medical Center told MPR News. Ulrich’s brother Rich told The Daily Beast he had been addicted to opioids for years and was often angry at doctors would not give him more.
“The history that this department has with this individual makes it likely that this incident was targeted at the facility, or someone at the facility,” Buffalo Police Chief Pat Budke said at the press conference.
He added that authorities found “a suspicious package in a corner of the lobby.” More suspicious devices were found at a Super 8 motel about a mile from the clinic where Ulrich had been staying.
In live-streamed footage of the Allina Clinic Crossroads by local news station KARE 11, several of the clinic’s front windows appear to be shattered and an empty wheelchair can be seen out the front.
According to Fox 9 Minneapolis-St. Paul, an eyewitness said the suspect fired shots inside the clinic, before calling 911 himself.
Court records show that Ulrich has been arrested several times, including on drunk driving charges. In 2019, a local church reported him to the Buffalo Police Department, alleging that Ulrich had sent them a disturbing letter.
Budke said authorities have no reason to believe the mass shooting has a link to domestic terrorism.
“There’s a history of him being unhappy with the health care he received,” he added.
Reached by phone, Ulrich’s brother Richard, a retired NASA engineer living in Florida, told The Daily Beast that his brother had been addicted to opioids since recovering from back surgery roughly two years ago. Gregory Ulrich worked construction three decades ago and received disability payments as a result but had not had a stable job since, according to Rich.
“He got prescribed some pain medication, oxycodone or something like that. That’s where the problem started. Ever since his back surgery he just seemed different,” he said.
Painkillers developed into an obsession over time, and Gregory would rage against the doctors who refused to prescribe him more, according to Rich. Most of Gregory’s calls concerned opioids, his brother said. Gregory even mentioned the possibility of undergoing another back surgery to procure more drugs.
“He would call me once in a while, and he was mad at the doctors because they wouldn’t give him more. They thought he was addicted, and they wouldn’t let him have any. I’m guessing that’s what set him off,” he said.
Rich Ulrich was surprised to hear news of his brother’s alleged involvement in the shooting.
“I never heard him make threats against the doctors, but he was upset. I never expected that something like this would happen. I didn’t think he could do something like that. Those opioids are bad stuff.”
Rich did not know how his brother came by the gun used in the shooting, but he did say when the two went on a camping trip together nearly 20 years ago, Gregory brought a firearm along.
A former roommate who lived with Ulrich for two years told Fox 9 the 67-year-old had a problem with drugs and an outspoken resentment of doctors.
“He didn’t like the doctors because they wouldn’t give him all the pain killers he wanted. They’d give him a month supply, and it would be gone in a few days,” Raymond Zastra was quoted saying.
Zastra, who said he would often see Ulrich “just sit on the couch high,” said he was shocked when his roommate apparently obtained a gun permit because law enforcement “knew he was a wack job.”
According to KSTP, the scene was secured by 11:42 a.m. A spokesperson for the police department told The Daily Beast that she could not confirm the number of people who had been shot.
A spokesperson for the Minnesota Department of Public Health told The Daily Beast he didn’t immediately know if the clinic had been administering COVID-19 vaccinations.
North Memorial Health Hospital, where several victims were reportedly taken, did not respond to a request for information. Allina declined to comment, directing The Daily Beast to law enforcement.
Buffalo is about 40 miles northwest of Minneapolis.
— With additional reporting by Pilar Melendez