Akron doctor who witnessed 'mercy killing' of Barbara Wise inside Akron General Medical Center talks

AKRON, Ohio - A doctor who confronted a suspect after a possible mercy killing inside Akron General Medical Center shared his story with NewsChannel5.

Dr. Michael Passero, 37, was doing his rounds on Aug. 4 in the intensive care unit when he heard "a weird, single, popping sound."

Passero thought a medical machine had made a strange noise, but when he entered room one he smelled smoke (from gunfire) and saw John Wise sitting on a chair next to his wife.

A nurse said Wise was holding a gun.

Passero focused on trying to have a calm conversation with Wise.

"He then spoke to me and said, 'Please tell me that she's dead.' And, I looked at her and I spoke very quietly and I said, 'I'm sorry. She's not dead.' I then turned to him and said, 'I can take care of this. I can help. I want to help your wife, but I need you to give me the gun.'"

Passero said it appeared that Wise was trying to clear a gun that jammed.

Eventually, hospital security entered the room and ordered Wise to drop the gun. When he didn't, he was tackled by officers.

When asked if he was scared, alone in the room with the gunman, Passero said, "In the moments that I was in the room, I don't remember being particularly scared. I think I believed that people were coming. I just needed to control the situation, try to keep him calm and that sort of forced me to remain calm."

Passero said it's up to the court system to determine if this was a mercy killing.

"This wasn't a malicious man. This wasn't, all the things we hear in the news, he didn't come in with multiple weapons. He didn't seem to have plans to do other things, so I don't know. But I don't think he was there to hurt anyone else," Passero said.

Barbara Wise was declared brain dead a day after the shooting.

Hospital officials said this was the first "code silver", a person with a weapon, in the hospital's history.

Wise has been charged with aggravated murder and is being held in the Summit County Jail.

Friends of the family said Barbara Wise suffered a severe brain aneurysm a week before she was admitted into the hospital and her husband felt she was suffering.

Terry Henderson, a close friend of the suspect, believes John and Barbara had a pact to not let each other suffer if either had a serious medical condition.

"It's obvious to me that my friend did this out of love for his wife. You stop and think how much courage it must have taken for him to do this. He threw his life away," Henderson said.

Henderson said Wise has serious health conditions. He's a cancer survivor and has diabetes.

Henderson also told NewsChannel5 that Wise took a cab to the hospital so that no one else would be implicated in the shooting, and he probably wasn't planning on returning to his Massillon home.

"I think he planned on taking himself out at the same time, but the gun jammed is what I think happened," Henderson said.

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