A Doctor Was Killed for Refusing to Prescribe Opioids, Authorities Say

The suspect in Indiana, a state gripped by addiction problems, took his own life

An Indiana man shot and killed himself shortly after gunning down a doctor who refused to prescribe opioid medication to his wife, the Washington Post reports.

The shooting and the suicide unfolded within just hours of each other July 26 in Mishawaka in northern Indiana, a state that's been gripped by problems with opioid addiction over the past several years. St. Joseph County Prosecutor Ken Cotter told reporters that Michael Jarvis confronted physician Todd Graham for not prescribing an opioid for his wife's chronic pain, but he cautioned that investigators are still determining whether drug addiction played a role in the killing.

Cotter said during a news conference July 27 that Jarvis and his wife showed up at Graham's office for an appointment Wednesday morning. Jarvis became upset after Graham told them that he doesn't believe chronic pain requires opioid medication. The couple left, but Jarvis — armed with a gun — drove back to the doctor's office about two hours later, Cotter said.

At that point, Graham was on his way to the St. Joseph Rehabilitation Institute a few miles from his office. Jarvis followed him to the institute's parking lot, where the two argued, Cotter said.

 “There were two witnesses who were outside and in close proximity,” Cotter told reporters. “Jarvis went to those two witnesses and told them to leave. They saw a gun.”

Jarvis shot Graham, then drove to a friend's home, where he “gave indication that he was no longer going to be around,” Cotter said. The friend, concerned for Jarvis's safety, called 911, but Jarvis killed himself before police arrived.

Cotter said Jarvis's wife did not know that he had driven back to the doctor's office and killed Graham. It also remains unclear whether both the husband and wife were addicted to opioid medications or whether Jarvis wanted the drugs for himself.

 “There's some indication that Jarvis may have also had his own issues. We're still investigating that,” Cotter said. “We're talking about a man who made a choice to kill another person. We're not talking about the opioid problem . . . Was that a contributing factor in his decision? We don't know that yet.”

Cotter said Jarvis was not a patient of Graham's and that investigators are looking at medical records to determine what drugs, if any, he and his wife had been prescribed previously. He did not say what type of opioid medication Jarvis and his wife were seeking when they went to Graham's office.

Source: The Washington Post; July 29, 2017.