MIAMI, FL – On Friday, October 8, 2021, federal district judge Kenneth A. Marra sentenced Larry Ray Bon, 62, a former West Palm Beach resident who shot a firearm inside the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in West Palm Beach to a federal prison term of 198 months.
According to court records, Bon brought the firearm and ammunition to the emergency room of the VA Medical Center in West Palm Beach. When he became frustrated with medical staff, Bon retrieved the firearm from his wheelchair and fired several shots. He placed VA Medical Center employees in fear for their lives, including two employees who were near Bon. An emergency room doctor attempted to disarm Bon, who fired the gun again, hitting the doctor in the neck. Despite being injured, the doctor was still able to disarm Bon. VA Medical Center staff then subdued Bon. The doctor survived the gunshot wound.
On March 13, 2020, Bon pleaded guilty to three counts of assaulting, resisting, or impeding federal employees, and one count of possession of a firearm in a federal facility with intent to commit a crime. Judge Marra originally committed Bon to the custody of the U.S. Attorney General for 25 years of mental health care and treatment at a suitable medical facility. This was a provisional sentence allowable under federal law where a judge “finds by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant is presently suffering from a mental disease or defect and that he should, in lieu of being sentenced to imprisonment, be committed to a suitable facility…” 18 U.S.C. §4244 (d). Bon was determined to no longer need psychiatric hospitalization, and was sentenced today.
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Juan Antonio Gonzalez, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, FBI’s Miami Field Office, and David Spilker, Special Agent in Charge, Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General, made the announcement.
“When this defendant fired shots inside the West Palm Beach VA medical center, he turned a place of healing and comfort into one of violence, fear, and confusion for the U.S. military veterans and medical personnel who were present that day. For this, he is being held accountable,” said Juan Antonio Gonzalez, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida. “We are committed to protecting our veterans, their families, and the dedicated employees of the South Florida VA medical clinics who treat them.”
“On February 27, 2019, Larry Ray Bon entered a Veterans Affairs Medical Center then fired several shots from a firearm that resulted in fear and confusion and the severe wounding an emergency room doctor,” said George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Miami. “While this sentence cannot erase what happened, he is now being held accountable for this senseless and cowardly act of violence.”
“Today’s sentence sends a clear message that the VA OIG and our law enforcement partners remain vigilant and resolute in holding accountable anyone who commits an act of violence at a VA facility,” said Special Agent in Charge David Spilker, Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General, Southeast Field Office. “The VA OIG wants to ensure that VA employees have a safe environment in which they can work and veterans can receive quality healthcare.”
Acting U.S. Attorney Gonzalez commended the investigative efforts of the FBI and VA OIG. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Susan Osborne and Rinku Tribuiani prosecuted this case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Danielle Croke handled the asset forfeiture aspects of the case.