BUFFALO, Minn. – A man charged with murder in a shooting at a Minnesota medical clinic bought the handgun he used in the attack with a permit from the local police department, even though he had been the subject of a restraining order for threatening the clinic in the past, according to a published report.
Gregory Ulrich, 67, is charged in an attack on an Allina Health clinic this week that left 37-year-old medical assistant Lindsay Overbay dead and four other people wounded. Ulrich had threatened in October 2018 to carry out a mass shooting at the clinic in Buffalo, a small city about 40 miles (65 kilometers) northwest of Minneapolis.
The threat led Ulrich to be banned from clinic property, and the following month a restraining order was granted to prohibit him from contacting a doctor at the clinic. The order also required Ulrich not to possess guns and to turn in any guns or permits he had.
But the Minneapolis Star Tribune, citing a law enforcement source it didn't name, reported Friday that the Buffalo Police Department had granted a permit for Ulrich to buy the handgun used in the attack. Even though Ulrich had been arrested for violating the restraining order, the newspaper reported that the permit was granted because the case was dismissed due to mental incompetency.
State law appears to clearly prohibit Ulrich from obtaining a permit to purchase a handgun. The statute bans anyone who has ever been found incompetent to stand trial from buying or having a gun. The statute does allow for some instances where a person could recover the right, but they don't appear to apply to Ulrich's case.
Buffalo Police Chief Pat Budke declined to answer questions from The Associated Press about the report, saying in a statement that the city cannot release information on gun permit applications.
Ulrich’s harassment case includes a notation from a court services agent in June 2019 that said Ulrich had applied for a “permit to purchase” and that approval was pending. The agent said he “highly recommended” against allowing Ulrich to have any weapons. A psychological evaluation was ordered, and in April 2020 the case was dismissed with a prosecutor saying Ulrich was found “mentally incompetent to proceed.”
Ulrich was charged Thursday, with his bail was set at $10 million or $5 million with conditions. Allina Health on Friday identified two shooting victims who hadn’t previously given permission to release their names: Tammy Schaufler, a business representative with the company for 32 years, and Antonya Fransen-Pruden, a licensed practical nurse who has been with the company since 2018. The company did not give their conditions. Three shooting victims remain hospitalized, one in fair condition and two in good condition, while a fourth was released from the hospital soon after the shooting.
At a news conference following Thursday's hearing, Wright County Sheriff Sean Deringer was asked about any permits Ulrich held.
Deringer said he could not talk about specific permits, but said that approvals can be complicated. He said his office has 2 1/2 people working full-time to handle nothing but permits to buy guns and carry them in public
Sometimes, Deringer said, “you have to have a master's degree to read some of these criminal histories” to catch disqualifiers.
“Sometimes they do slip through the cracks,” he said.