WWII veteran's flashback leads to brief standoff at Harrodsburg hospital

jwarren@herald-leader.comJanuary 3, 2013 

A 92-year-old man thought to be having a war flashback briefly held a nursing assistant at knifepoint Thursday morning at a Harrodsburg hospital before police disarmed him.

Dewitt Sims of Harrodsburg was arrested and later charged with two counts of first-degree wanton endangerment, police said.

Officer Brian Hislope of the Harrodsburg Police Department said that Sims, a World War II veteran, apparently was having a flashback and thought he was under threat from enemies.

Sims was being held in the Boyle County Detention Center. The nurse, whose name was not released, was uninjured, police said.

The incident occurred about 9:30 a.m. Thursday at Harrodsburg's James B. Haggin Memorial Hospital, where Sims was a patient.

Hislope said police were called to the hospital, and several officers rushed to a patient room, where they found Sims holding a pocketknife to the nurse's throat.

Hislope said Harrodsburg Police Chief Billy Whitenack, who was among the officers at the scene, began talking to Sims, slowly approached him and then managed to get between Sims and the nurse. Other officers in the room, including Hislope, then arrested Sims.

It was over "a couple of minutes" after the officers entered the room, Hislope said.

The hospital briefly went on lockdown during the incident.

"He (Sims) stated that he thought he was being held captive; he thought that hospital staff as well as us were possibly German or Japanese from World War II," Hislope said.

"This kind of case, having him be 92 and a veteran, is tough all around, for the family, for the victim and for us," Hislope said. "It was sad, with the circumstances surrounding his situation."

Jim Warren: (859) 231-3255.

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