UPDATE 8:15 a.m. Thursday: Adam Paul Cary, 34, was booked into County Jail late Wednesday on suspicion of murder. The arresting agency was Atascadero State Hospital police.
Original story: A patient at Atascadero State Hospital was killed and an employee was injured Wednesday afternoon during an alleged attack by two other patients, a state official said.
The attack occurred in a patient dorm room at about 2:18 p.m. Hospital staff members responded to a call for help and found a critically injured patient in the room, said Ken August, spokesman for the California Department of State Hospitals.
Medical staff provided initial medical treatment and then moved the victim to the hospital’s urgent care center, where he was pronounced dead at 3:01 p.m., August said.
“We have no information on the cause of death,” which the coroner was still investigating on Wednesday evening, August said.
The employee was taken to a local hospital for evaluation of injuries.
The Atascadero Police Department and the county District Attorney’s Office were asked to assist in the investigation at the high-security state hospital, which treats mentally ill male inmates from the correctional system and other violent offenders.
As of 8 p.m., the two suspects remained in isolation under the supervision of hospital police while the investigation continued, August said. After the incident, the hospital was put on lockdown and remained that way into the evening, so that patients were confined to their units.
Two employees who spoke with The Tribune said that while they didn’t witness the incident firsthand, they had heard that the patient died by strangulation.
”There was something tied to his neck,” one employee said of the victim.
The employees asked that their names not be published for fear of retribution.
The Department of State Hospitals isn't allowed to disclose the names of its patients, but if a patient is taken into custody and booked into San Luis Obispo County Jail the name becomes public record.
Assistant City Editor Janet Lavelle contributed to this story.