Ellenville hospital shooting suspect wanted drugs, police say

Daily Freeman-2 years before

Capt. Michael Drake said Joshua Stuart went to the emergency department at the local hospital early Friday complaining of abdominal pain and seeking prescription medication.

“One way or the other, he wanted pain meds,” Drake said during a Tuesday afternoon press conference at the Napanoch Fire House.

Police say Stuart, 42, of Pine Lane, Kerhonkson, shot a 9mm handgun in the direction of nurses...at Ellenville Regional Hospital, eventually left the building, exchanged gunfire with New York City Department of Environmental Protection police officers nearby soon afterward, and then robbed a store employee in Brooklyn three days later. He was captured Monday evening in New York City by a regional fugitive task force, Drake said.

shot a 9mm handgun in the direction of nurses at Ellenville Regional Hospital was captured Monday evening in New York City At the hospital, after ordering nurses to open a medicine cabinet and then shooting at it, Stuart took off in the direction of the hospital lobby, which was “crowded with patients,” Drake said. He said the hospital was put in lockdown and unarmed medical personnel “soothed and calmed” Stuart, convincing him to exit through a back door to where his Dodge Ram pickup was parked.

“The folks at the hospital are heroes today. … How many lives they saved, who knows? But those people are heroes today,” the police captain said.

Drake and Ulster County Senior Assistant District Attorney Gerard VanLoan said local charges against Stuart will be determined by a grand jury. VanLoan said the panel “hopefully” will convene shortly.

The prosecutor did not know what charges Stuart will face in New York City, where he is being held, or when he is likely to be extradited to Ulster County.

Regarding the local charges, Drake said police and prosecutors were “figuring it out,” and he noted Stuart “is not going to cause anyone harm any time soon.”

The report of Stuart's arrest came some 10 hours after the Brooklyn robbery. In that case, the NYPD said, Stuart entered a store at 8313 Third Ave. about 8:37 a.m. Monday, approached a 29-year-old male employee, displayed a gun and took the employee's wallet, which contained $50 and a credit card. He then fled in a gray 2005 Honda Pilot, police said.

The drama began about 1 a.m. Friday, when Stuart is accused of firing a gun in the Ellenville hospital.

State police said Stuart drove off in his pickup after the shooting and that when New York City environmental police confronted him near the truck in Napanoch, he fired four to five shots from a semiautomatic pistol. Two DEP police officers returned fire but did not strike Stuart, Drake said.

Stuart fled into the woods after firing the shots, police said. As a result, the nearby Vernooy Kill State Forest was closed Saturday and remained closed Sunday amid the search for Stuart. It reopened Monday.

Drake described the state forest as “extremely treacherous” and remote and said the search there became a “tactical nightmare."

"Radios not working. Cell phone communications not working. We had to be very methodical not to injure members of the public or ourselves,” he said.

Local, state and environmental protection police established a perimeter in an attempt to isolate Stuart, and “we had him on the run,” Drake said. The captain acknowledged, though, that he got "through our perimeter,” which enabled him to make his way to New York City.

“We knew at some point Josh Stuart was going to surface,” Drake said. He said that happened when Stuart attempted burglaries and larcenies along the Route 55 corridor, setting off alarms in the process, and eventually stole a car in the vicinity and headed south.

“Unfortunately, early morning Sunday the 30th, he was able to lay in wait and get into a subject’s vehicle off of Route 55 and the Sportsman Road area, and he was able to get through our perimeter and he was able to get away," Drake said. "… I’d be remiss if I didn’t tell you I made a mistake. I did, in letting him get away."

The Freeman's online archive shows Stuart was arrested in November 2016 for an armed robbery three months earlier at a pharmacy in Kerhonkson. Police said at the time that he wore a mask, held a pharmacist at gunpoint and demanded prescription medications and money.

Stuart was arrested in November 2016 Ulster County Court has no record of hearing the the 2016 case against Stuart, according to a court clerk. There also is no record on the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision website of Stuart having served any time in state prison in connection with the case.

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