Man arrested for firing gun inside Saint Thomas Midtown Hospital

Exterior shot of Ascension Saint Thomas Hospital in Midtown Nashville.
Exterior shot of Ascension Saint Thomas Hospital in Midtown Nashville.(WSMV)
Published: Nov. 27, 2022 at 11:25 AM EST|Updated: Nov. 28, 2022 at 8:31 AM EST
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - Metro Police said a man has been arrested after firing a gun inside Ascension Saint Thomas Midtown Hospital on Saturday.

Police were dispatched to the hospital early Saturday morning after security said they heard at least two gunshots in the stairwell. 33-year-old Nicholas Zaayenga was found on the fourth level. Officers confronted Zaayenga, who complied with commands. Police found a firearm in a chair near him. Police said he had multiple magazines on him for the gun.

Police found multiple bullet casings near the defendant. There was also damage caused to a fire door caused by gunfire. Two nurses told police they could hear the gunshots nearby.

Metro Police say Zaayenga, upon entry, got locked in the stairwell, where he was found and arrested.

The incident has caused nursing students like Lily Wagner to feel a little uneasy.

“We’re very thankful that nothing happened but knowing his intent and that he came in with a gun is very nerve-wracking to us,” Wagner said. “Healthcare is one place where our workers should definitely feel safer.”

It’s unclear what Zaayenga’s motive was, or whether he’d ever been a patient at Saint Thomas.

Olivia Robinson is also a nursing student who works at Ascension Saint Thomas Midtown. Her fear is how much worse this incident could have been.

“We’re very thankful no one was hurt. But we’ve been hearing about these shootings a lot. And this is our workplace, this is where we come every single day and it’s like, you never think it’s going to be you until it is, and you’re put in that situation. It’s just scary,” Robinson said.

In response to the shooting, Ascension Saint Thomas Midtown released this statement:

“The safety of our associates, providers, patients and visitors is always our highest priority. We are so proud of the prompt response by our associates and the Metro Nashville Police Department. We are most thankful for the safety of all involved. Our campus leaders have visited hospital departments to answer associates’ questions, concerns and provide support. We are fully cooperating with Metro Nashville Police Department in their investigation.”

Zaayenga has been charged with reckless endangerment, vandalism, possession of a weapon, and criminal trespassing. Police said Zaayenga entered the hospital through a back door at which all doors were locked.

He is set to appear in court on Tuesday.