Man who called in false report of hospital shooter sentenced to year in jail, restitution

Crime Watch
Mario Thompson, suspect accused of reporting false active shooter at Memorial, Southwest Hospitals, denies his involvement

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — The man who called in a false report of an active shooter at Mercy Hospital Southwest was sentenced Tuesday to a year in jail and ordered to pay more than $20,000 in restitution.

A jury convicted Mario Thompson last week of falsely reporting an emergency, a misdemeanor.

In imposing sentence, Superior Court Judge Tiffany Organ-Bowles gave an impassioned statement regarding the widespread panic and fear Thompson caused when his call prompted the facility to go on lockdown in August of last year.

“There are places in our world that used to be sacred: churches, schools, hospital,” the judge said. “But in 2018 and 2019, those places aren’t sacred anymore.”

She described the testimony she heard during Thompson’s trial, in which patients cowered in fear inside the facility, wondering if a gunman’s bullet would end their life. Heavily armed officers arrived not knowing if they would return to their families that night.

Fortunately, there was no shooter, Organ-Bowles said. But the chaos Thompson caused was real.

She noted the restitution amounts for the incident were “raw estimates,” but the Bakersfield Police Department said it paid officers $7,685.58 in overtime alone, and Dignity Health estimated the false report cost it $13,337.

Organ-Bowles ordered Thompson to pay restitution to both entities despite his public defender’s argument that he is indigent and unable to pay.

Thompson was taken into custody immediately after the proceedings to begin serving his jail term.

In January, Thompson was sentenced to 270 days in jail and three years’ felony probation in connection with a separate incident where police said he called in a report of an active shooter Dec. 4 at Bakersfield Memorial Hospital.

He pleaded no contest to impersonating an officer in that case.

Thompson inserted himself into the investigation, police said, and identified himself to hospital security as a police officer.

Officers detained Thompson and found him in possession of a pellet gun, pepper spray and prescription pills, according to police. They determined he was neither a peace officer, nor a hospital security guard. 

It was after his arrest in that incident that he was linked to the earlier false report.

Thompson told police he made the false report at Memorial to “test” law enforcement readiness, according to court documents.

Organ-Bowles on Tuesday called his actions “absolutely inexcusable.”

“I hope you’ve learned,” she told him.

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