Kirk Avalos
Kirk Avalos
Kirk S. Avalos is expected to serve six months with the Indiana Department of Corrections after shooting himself inside the emergency room at King’s Daughters’ Hospital on June 21, 2018.

Jefferson County Superior Court Judge Michael Hensley sentenced Avalos Monday morning after considering the state’s and Avalos’ sentencing arguments, which took place in April.

“Obviously, a decision in your case is a difficult one for the court,” Hensley said to Avalos.

Avalos, 58, was sentenced to two years, with 16 months suspended to probation for a Level 5 felony charge of criminal recklessness. Hensley explained he expects Avalos actually to serve about six months due to the good behavior credits he thinks Avalos will earn. Avalos also will receive credit for two days served upon his arrest, before he made bond in July 2018.

“We’re not here to be punitive. We’re here to be rehabilitative,” said Hensley.

Hensley cited mitigating factors, including Avalos’ honorable military discharge and lack of a criminal or delinquent history and the high likelihood that he would respond more positively to probation and treatment.

One aggravating factor the state pointed out in April was also mentioned again Monday. Avalos only shot the gun once — at himself— but there were six bullets in the .38 caliber Smith & Wesson when he entered the hospital. The revolver had been fully loaded.

Hensley explained that he couldn’t “in good conscious” suspend the whole sentence, because if he gave Avalos a “slap on the wrist” he would not be deterring others from potentially copying Avalos or causing similar incidents in the future.

Avalos, who lives in Corpus Christi, Texas, testified during the sentencing hearings, sometimes being overwhelmed by emotion and becoming tearful.

Avalos said he had been “experiencing a great deal of anxiety and remorse and guilt” because he had not been with his father to care for him before his death.

He said he went to his father’s grave the weekend before the June 21 shooting at KDH.

Although Avalos said he was “foggy” about his days in Madison preceding the shooting, he said he “went to the deli department at Kroger and bought flowers to put on my father’s grave” and noted that it had been Father’s Day weekend.

He said his intent was to shoot himself at his father’s grave. But, he did not.

As he struggled to explain his state of mind, Avalos said, “I wanted to live, yet I wanted to die.”

He said he went to the hospital on June 21 to get help. Instead he sat in the car in the hospital parking area “preparing my suicide note.”

Avalos said he “wanted to do it in front of people who cared for other people.” He also said he wanted to be where someone could help him, but it was not his intent to shoot anyone else.

After 15 to 20 minutes, he said he walked into the emergency room of the hospital about 11:45 a.m. without a weapon. He stayed, he said, about 10 to 15 minutes, then went back to his car for his gun.

He said he went back into the hospital with his gun and talked with a woman at the front desk, asking for help and waving the gun at himself.

It “was my cry out for help,” Avalos said.

He said he shot himself when the woman went to get help.

“I want to apologize to the City of Madison and to anyone I frightened or scared,” he said as he noted how it was KDH personnel who stabilized, then treated him and drove him to the University of Louisville Hospital trauma center.

Margie Combs, senior manager of risk management and safety at KDH who is in charge of the hospital’s security, also testified in April, sharing the details of how patient care was disrupted because of Avalos’ actions and how patients, employees and families were fearful for their safety and that of their loved ones.

Combs told the court how families were unable to contact their loved ones, employees of KDH, for several hours during and after the event because of the chaos it caused. She gave one anecdote of an employee who hid in a closet for several hours to finally come out, distraught that no one had come to find her after the incident was over.

Combs also shared that many employees have threatened to quit because they still are dealing with the trauma and fear from that day nearly a year ago.

The hospital has also had to make significant changes to the infrastructure of its facilities because of Avalos’ actions. Before, they had an open, inviting environment in as many areas as possible, but now they are closing things off and putting in protective barriers, Combs said.

These infrastructure changes are also quite costly, Combs said. The expenses came at a time when the hospital had not prepared for them in the budget and this was also causing a strain and extra stress on employees. She estimated the costs spent outside the budget so far at about $250,000.

Tim Armstrong, now a special deputy with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, was a detective on the day of the shooting. He told the court in April that he guessed at least 13 officers from several local forces and the state police responded to the hospital that day, preventing them from responding to other emergency situations.

Armstrong said that, luckily, there were no other serious emergency calls during the time every available officer was posted at or searching inside KDH for other victims or shooters.

Avalos will have to pay court fees of $185, an initial probation fee of $100 and a $25 per month fee throughout his probation. No restitution was requested.