Nurse tells how she hugged, calmed New Somerset Hospital shooter before sedating him

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Jean-Paul Carl Malgas, the man accused of killing two patients and a police officer at New Somerset Hospital on Saturday night, was remanded in custody by the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday, 10 May. The brave nurse that intervened on that fateful night has broken her silence.

READ: New Somerset Hospital: Triple murder accused ex-cop ‘suicidal,’ says lawyer

SISTER SEALE TELLS HOW SHE CALMED SHOOTER

In the wake of the shooting, reports filtered through about a brave nurse who deescalated the situation on and convinced Malgas to drop the weapon he had wrestled from Constable Donay Phillips before shooting him in the head and turning the gun on two other patients.

Sister Diane Seale initially opted to remain anonymous; however, in a statement issued by the Western Cape Government on Wednesday, 11 May, she offered a first-hand account of the events that played out on Saturday.

Seale said she received a call from a distressed colleague as she was busy with her routine handover process. The colleague screamed and said an altercation had taken place on the second floor.

“As I entered the second floor, I noticed a body on the floor in the corridor, but my eye caught the patient with the gun in his hand.  I proceeded to walk straight to him, made eye contact. I walked towards him, and I hugged him,” said the nurse.

“I escorted him into the cubicle. He told me to close the door. That also afforded our staff to then attend to the policeman who had been shot. I felt I could calm him down a bit. 

“Although I had noted two patients had been shot and were deceased, there were still two patients that were alive that I needed to save. I kept him seated, standing in front of him, so that these patients were kept out of harm’s way.”

Constable Phillips was rushed to Groote Schuur Hospital where he died of his injuries in the early hours of Sunday.

Inside the cubicle, Seale said did not take her eyes off Malgas and kept telling him that they needed to talk.

She asked him what happened, reached out and touched him, which he allowed. The accused reportedly looked at Seale and told her she was brave as she was the only person to enter the room.

The nurse repeatedly asked Malgas to drop the weapon.

“There were some moments the perpetrator and I engaged in conversation, and I could even crack a joke. If he spoke to me, I allowed him that opportunity, but I would always come back to the request to put the gun down,” said Seale.

Eventually, Malgas allowed her to sedate him. The nurse said she sat with him and stroked his forehead until he was sedated, which is when she called the police tactical team – that was waiting outside the door – inside and the accused was subdued and arrested.

“The story of Sr. Seale is one of leadership, bravery, compassion, teamwork and true humanity. Her unwavering focus and attention on the suspected shooter ensured that countless lives were spared.

“She and her entire team exemplify the Western Cape Government’s values of being caring, competent, and responsive; and they are an example to us all,” said Western Cape Premier Alan Winde.

It has since been revealed that Malgas is a former police officer. The court heard on Tuesday that he is suicidal and suffers from depression.

The Vredenberg man is charged with three counts of murder, illegal possession of a firearm, ammunition and robbery.

His next court appearance is expected on 30 June.

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