NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — A man has been taken into custody after police said he opened fire inside Ascension St. Thomas Midtown Hospital in Nashville.

On Saturday, Nov. 26, officers were sent to the 2000 block of Church Street to respond to a shots fired call and reports of a man who had a gun in the hospital’s stairwell. 

According to an affidavit, once on scene, security guards told officers they heard at least two gunshots go off in the stairwell and the suspect was located on the fourth floor. 

Court records say officers confronted Nicholas Perre Zaayenga, 33, with firearms and gave him commands to follow. Police say Zaayenga followed commands and was taken into custody.

At the scene, officers found a firearm, multiple magazines, and multiple bullet casings that matched the same caliber as the pistol that was found near Zaayenga. 

Nicholas Zaayenga mugshot
Nicholas Zaayenga (Courtesy: Metro Nashville Police Department)

An affidavit states the gunfire caused damage to a door inside the stairwell and two nurses reported they could hear the gunshots nearby. 

However, according to Semaj Valentine, he was visiting his girlfriend at the hospital all day Saturday as she prepared to give birth to their son and he didn’t hear anything.

“The workers haven’t said anything. When I woke up this morning, they didn’t say nothing,” Valentine said. “I’m so surprised, I don’t know what to say right now. That’s crazy.”

Officials later discovered that Zaayenga entered the hospital through a back door, according to court records. Authorities say there is a no firearms permitted sign posted at the hospital’s front door with the TCA code at the bottom.

“They need to put security guards on the back. That’s really all I got to say. They got in through the back, they need to put some security guard on the back,” said Wayne Williams, who was stopping by the hospital to see a family member on Sunday, Nov. 27.

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Stan Medlock, who was visiting a relative with Williams, said Saturday’s incident is just one example of gun violence plaguing the country.

“The person that we’re going to see is actually on the fourth floor, so like I say, when you look at the news every day, any time you hear of a shooting or something, I hear people say, ‘I didn’t think it could happen here,’ but people need to be aware it can happen anywhere,” Medlock said.

Zaayenga was charged with reckless endangerment with a deadly weapon, which is a Class E felony. He remains in Metro Jail.

News 2 reached out to Ascension about Saturday’s incident, as well as the the security at St. Thomas Midtown Hospital, and received the following statement:

The safety of our associates, providers, patients and visitors is always our highest priority. We are so proud of the prompt response by our associates and the Metro Nashville Police Department. We are most thankful for the safety of all involved. Our campus leaders have visited hospital departments to answer associates’ questions, concerns and provide support. We are fully cooperating with Metro Nashville Police Department in their investigation. 

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This is a developing story. WKRN News 2 will continue to update this article as new information becomes available.