Two patients detained three staff members inside a treatment unit at Arizona State Hospital (Photo courtesy of the Arizona Department of Health Services)

Police arrest two patients for holding three staffers hostage at Arizona hospital

November 04, 2022
by John R. Fischer, Senior Reporter
Phoenix police have charged two patients from Arizona State Hospital with criminal damage and suspicion of aggravated assault after holding three staff members hostage.

Nathaniel Moors, 24 and David McCarthy, 35, prevented one man and two women from leaving a treatment unit on the morning of October 31, barricading themselves in it, reported The Arizona Republic.

Both were forensic patients, which are defined as individuals with mental illnesses that have been charged with criminal behavior. McCarthy was serving a mandatory sentence at the mental hospital, and inflicted several thousand dollars worth of damages, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.

Police initially detained three men who were patients but released the third after determining that he was not involved.

Moore and McCarthy were released later that night under a court order.

"Such incidents are extremely rare, and the Arizona State Hospital has established procedures in place to protect staff and patients if one should occur," said the ADHS in a statement.

McCarthy has prior assault charges, including aggravated assault against a police officer. He told authorities that he assaulted the man first out of anger, and then attacked the two women when they tried to stop him and Moors from assaulting their co-worker.

He said he hit and punched the three, and then picked up a “vital machine” and threw it to the ground. From it, he grabbed a piece of broken metal and began hitting and damaging the plexiglass between him and the staff. Damages for the machine and plexiglass were about $7,365, according to court documents.

He also said that he was ready to fight officers with the broken piece of metal but gave up when the Phoenix Police Department Special Action Unit responded because he would “lose a fight to them.”

Moors allegedly punched the three and grabbed a pill crusher from an employees-restricted area and damaged three plexiglass windows with it. He was also charged on suspicion of burglary for an unlawful entry.

The 260-bed facility provides psychiatric care to Arizonans with mental illnesses who are under court order for treatment.

Last year, two of its patients committed suicide, according to NBC-affiliate, 12News/KPNX. An ASH employee at the time said that the hospital was dealing with staffing issues that were affecting patient care.

"We can't provide treatment, we can't keep them safe from harm or suicides or attacks by other patients if we don’t have adequate staff," the employee said.