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Trauma doctor's plea to end gun violence was 'completely spontaneous'

Sep. 17, 2013 at 9:15 AM ET

The physician who provided updates about the victims of a deadly shooting rampage at a Washington military installation said on Tuesday that she was “completely spontaneous” when she made an emotional plea to stop gun violence.

“It wasn’t planned. It wasn’t something that I had intended to say. But I meant it,” said Dr. Janis Orlowski, chief medical officer of MedStar Washington Hospital Center.

Orlowski had been speaking with reporters at a news conference Monday about the shooting victims being treated at her facility when she made an impromptu plea.

“There’s something evil in our society that we as Americans have to work to try and eradicate,” she said during the briefing. “There’s something wrong here when we have these multiple shootings, these multiple injuries.”

She later added: "I would like you to put my trauma center out of business. I really would. I would like to not be an expert on gunshots." 

Orlowski told TODAY’s Matt Lauer that while she didn't expect to address the topic, she spoke sincerely.

“It was direct from my heart. I meant every word of it,” she said. “I must have poked the underbelly because I’ve gotten quite a few comments and phone calls and emails and tweets about it.”

The comments came after Orlowski was asked whether Monday’s injuries differed from those suffered in other violent events.

“My first thought was no, there’s nothing different about this," she said. "It’s terrible. It’s horrific. It’s a senseless injury that we deal with."

Orlowski's comments from the news conference were widely picked up by Twitter users closely following details of the Navy Yard shooting as they were relayed nationally on television, on news sites and through social media. 

Orlowski said she fears her words may soon fade into the past as quickly as other emotional statements made by parents and friends of shooting victims from other tragedies, including those in Newtown, Conn., and Aurora, Colo.

“Am I worried? Absolutely. What are we going to do as an American people to take care of this?" she said. "Let’s stop this now."

Orlowski spoke to reporters shortly after she had informed the hospital to accept a policy and innovation position elsewhere. Her resignation takes effect next month. 

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