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Shooting victim: 'My God — are we going to die here?'

31 May 2022

BUFFALO, MINN. — It was a quiet morning at the Buffalo Allina Health Clinic. Tammy Schaufler had just checked in a patient when she saw a man enter the lobby and place a briefcase on the floor.

“Sir, I can help you over here,” she called out. The next thing she knew, a man she identified as Gregory Ulrich was pointing a gun at her.

After Schaufler dropped to the floor under her desk, Ulrich came around the desk, squatted next to her and shot her in the hip and stomach, she testified Tuesday.

“I just kept thinking, ‘My God, what’s going to happen here? Are we going to die here?’ ” Schaufler said at Ulrich’s trial in Wright County District Court. He is charged with premeditated first-degree murder and a host of other crimes in the Feb. 9, 2021, attack, which left medical assistant Lindsay Overbay dead.

On Tuesday, jurors heard testimony from four of Overbay’s co-workers who were wounded in the attack. They described their terror at coming face to face with a killer and the struggles they’ve had in dealing with the aftermath of the attack.

Sherry Curtis, a licensed practical nurse, ran into Ulrich in a hallway and was shot six times.

“I looked at him and asked him, ‘Why?’ ” Curtis testified. “But I don’t recall him answering me.” As she lay wounded, Curtis said, “I remember I kept saying, ‘I don’t want to die.’ “

Curtis had her spleen removed and had surgery to repair gunshot wounds to her large and small intestines. Also shot in the left arm, Curtis said she has no feeling in her left hand and forearm. She’s had “truly awful” post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) and still has days when she doesn’t leave her home.

“I always have my guard up” when she goes out, she testified. “If I go into a building, I have to know where my exits are.”

Jennifer Gibson, a medical assistant at the clinic, shared an office space with Overbay.

Gibson heard “a loud metallic bang” around 10:55 that morning and looked down the hallway to see a man with a gun. She heard more bangs and ran outside, where she lay on the ground, bleeding from a gunshot wound in her thigh, and played dead in temperatures around 5 below zero.

Since the attack, Gibson testified, she’s been diagnosed with PTSD and has seen a therapist weekly.

“It is a struggle to do daily things,” she said.

As the victims described their pain and terror, the man accused of causing it refused to look at them.

Ulrich laid his head on a courtroom table and wrapped his arms around it, refusing to look up as victims described the attack.

Throughout the trial, now in its third week, Ulrich has sat attentively at the table with his lawyers, taking notes and occasionally whispering to them. Not on Tuesday.

Before the jury was brought in, Ulrich told the judge that he was in great pain and would prefer to lie down outside the courtroom.

“Pain is the most powerful drug,” Ulrich told District Judge Catherine McPherson. “I might as well be on heroin. I’m all mixed up and I need some pain medication so I can talk and think about it.”

“Mr. Ulrich, I would like you to be present in court today,” McPherson replied. “You do seem able to talk and you’re speaking logically.”

McPherson ordered Ulrich to remain in the courtroom, whereupon he buried his head in his arms and kept it there through more than three hours of testimony.

Antonya Fransen-Pruden, a registered nurse, walked to the witness stand with a slight limp. It’s a lingering effect of being shot in the back during the attack, she testified.

Fransen-Pruden was in the lobby of the clinic when the gunman, identified by many witnesses as Ulrich, shot Schaufler and then shot her.

As she lay under a desk where she’d dragged herself, she heard him call 911 and tell the dispatcher to “send a lot of ambulances.”

Fransen-Pruden spent 10 days in the hospital being treated for injuries to her spine, colon, ovaries and Fallopian tubes.

Jurors also heard testimony from Manissa Patel, owner of the Super 8 motel where Ulrich stayed during the week before the attack. On the day before the shootings, Patel testified, she asked Ulrich if he wanted to switch from a daily to a weekly rate.

“He said, ‘No, my work will be done,’ ” Patel testified.

Prosecutors also played two short videos made by Ulrich in December 2020, about six weeks before the attack.

“They’re gonna find out what happens” when they mess with “a good Christian man,” Ulrich said in the first video. “You picked on the wrong person.”

In the second video, recorded on Christmas Day, Ulrich said that pain causes people to become angry and violent, threatening to “grab a pistol and go down there and kill as many … nurses as you can.”

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