Aurora man who held nurse practioner hostage at VA hospital charged

Johnie Wayne Roth, age 77, of Aurora, was arrested by Special Agents with the Veterans Affairs (VA) Office of the Inspector General on charges of assaulting, impeding or interfering with an employee of the United States in performance of official duties and use of a deadly or dangerous weapon, the United States Attorney’s Office announced. Roth, who made his initial appearance on Monday, December 7th, was advised of his rights as well as the charge pending against him. He is in the custody of the U.S. Marshals pending a detention hearing scheduled for Thursday, December 10th. A preliminary hearing has been scheduled for December 21, 2015.

According to the facts contained in the arrest affidavit, on the morning of December 3, 2015, Roth had a medical appointment at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Denver with a nurse practitioner in Ambulatory Care. As Roth and the nurse practitioner met in her office, the defendant produced a handgun from a bag that he had brought with him to his appointment. Investigators learned that Roth taken over the room, and pointed the gun at his head, and waived it around the room. He also had additional ammunition in his bag. He intended to fire shots into the ceiling so that the VA Police would respond. He did not fire a shot. Instead, the nurse practitioner was able to call for help. It was determined that Roth brought the gun because he wanted the VA Police to shoot him.

As the VA Police responded, the Acting Deputy Chief was able to enter the room and establish a rapport with Roth. Roth wanted the Deputy Chief to shoot him. Other responding officers, who were outside the door, heard the movement of furniture and stormed into the room. Once inside the Deputy Chief instructed them to stand down, as he was able to recover the weapon, a .22 caliber six shot revolver, from Roth. The VA Police took Roth into custody.

“The Veterans Affairs police officers, including the acting deputy chief, showed courage in confronting the defendant, convincing him to let his hostage go and to drop his weapon,” said U.S. Attorney John Walsh. “Roth wanted to die at the hands of the police, and thanks to their law enforcement training, the VA Police handled this crisis with valor.”

If convicted, Roth faces not more than 20 years in federal prison, and up to a $250,000 fine.

The defendant was arrested by the Veterans Affairs Police Department. The subsequent investigation was conducted by the VA Office of the Inspector General.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason St. Julien.

The charges contained in the Criminal Complaint are allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. A Criminal Complaint is a probable cause charging document. Anyone accused of committing a federal felony violation of law has a Constitutional right to be indicted by a grand jury.