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Swift Action and Collaboration: A Tale of Courage and Compassion

VA Nurses and Police

On a seemingly ordinary morning, an Ann Arbor Transit Authority bus became the scene of a horrifying attack. A 25-year-old woman and a 21-year-old man accidentally collided on the bus, but what followed was far from accidental.

The man, fueled by rage, pulled out a knife and slashed the woman across her chest.  Panic and chaos ensued as passengers grappled with the unfolding violence. What unfolded next is a testament to courage, teamwork, and unwavering commitment to public safety and compassion for a stranger.

At 8 a.m. on Wednesday, April 3, Officer Sanchez was patrolling the main entrance of the LTC Charles S. Kettles VAMC. Upon hearing a bystander mention there had a been a stabbing on one of the buses, he responded immediately to the chaotic scene, relaying the distressing news to VA Ann Arbor Police Dispatch. Office Sanchez was the first police officer on scene, arriving within 20 seconds of the initial report. 

The main entrance buzzed with urgency as two buses stood still. Officer Sanchez boarded one of them, confirming with the bus driver that indeed, a stabbing had occurred.  More officers raced to the VA medical center driveway on Fuller Road. The suspect had fled the scene, leaving behind a wounded victim. 

Supervisory Security Assistant Leticia Inge coordinated efforts over the radio, providing real-time descriptions of the scene to Washtenaw County dispatch and Ann Arbor Police Department. Officer Savicke arrived promptly, joining forces with Ann Arbor PD, while Officers Bevins and Mory assumed traffic control duties, ensuring the safety of everyone involved. 

Meanwhile, Sara Bean and Tori Frazier, nurses in Primary Care, were in the supply room when they heard the commotion. Still holding gloves they had retrieved for stocking, they followed Officer Sanchez to the front entrance where they learned the grim truth.  Without a blink of hesitation, they sprinted down toward the buses.

On the bus, they found the victim bleeding and in pain. Sara and Tori wasted no time providing emergency care to the victim.  Using the gloves they carried and a first aid kit, they applied pressure to the wounds, staunching the bleeding. Working alongside Officers Sanchez and Savicke, the groups calm demeanor and fortitude provided comfort to the injured woman and those on board the bus. The officers notified VA Ann Arbor’s code team - a specially trained medical team who respond to emergency situations at the hospital. Even after paramedics arrived, they continued their emergency care efforts, taping ABD pads to the wounds of the victim.

Dr. Alexander Rabin, a critical care physician, was just arriving to work that morning and witnessed the chaotic scene unfolding near the street. He parked his car and ran to assist, helping to coordinate care among the VA code team. 

As VA Ann Arbor employees controlled the scene on the bus, Major Saxman, arriving for his shift, spotted the suspect—a figure clad in a white T-shirt, black hoodie, and carrying a black backpack. Major Saxman shadowed the suspect as he fled west down Fuller Road, maintaining visual contact for Ann Arbor Police Department. Moments later, more officers arrived on scene to lend assistance, including LT. Pardon, Investigator Schiller, and Deputy Chief Hester.

As VA Ann Arbor Police Chief Gregory Allen arrived at the intersection of Fuller and Bonisteel, he witnessed Ann Arbor PD apprehending the suspect. Within minutes of the initial alert, the victim was en route to UM Hospital for urgent medical attention, and the knife-wielding suspect was in custody of the Ann Arbor Police Department.

This incident underscores VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System’s commitment to safety, vigilance, and collaboration. Our team’s rapid response and dedication to our community exemplify the VA ICARE values: Integrity, Commitment, Advocacy, Respect, and Excellence. Together, we stand as guardians of well-being, ensuring that our hospital remains a sanctuary for all.

We honor these brave women and men—VA staff who exemplify courage, compassion, and unwavering commitment.  Their actions remind us that heroes walk among us, ready to spring into action when they are needed.