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“Hey, we need the police stat, to the hospital. We have a family member with a gun.”  This is the call that a staff member at Tomball Regional Medical Center put in 11 months ago, when George Pickering of Pinehurst, Tex., angrily pulled out a 9 mm handgun while standing at his son’s hospital bedside.

According to the Houston Chronicle Gary Hammond, Tomball Police’s head of criminal investigations, said at the time that Pickering was “distraught” over the care his son, George Pickering III, was receiving. The younger Pickering was on life support after having a stroke.

Witnesses said, Pickering yelled “I’ll kill all of you,” and pointed the gun at hospital workers. A nurse and Pickering’s ex-wife left after he reportedly said, “You don’t think that’s the only weapon I got.”

Although Pickering was quickly disarmed by another son who was also at the hospital, he refused to surrender to police officers, resulting in an hours-long standoff between SWAT officers in the hospital room, as Pickering held his son’s hand all the while.  According to the Chronicle eventually, he was coaxed into surrendering.

The incident landed Pickering behind bars on two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, for which he was released from jail just this month.  One of the chargers was dropped and the other reduced to a state jail felony and according to CNN affiliate KRPC, Pickering was also given credit for time served.

Along with Pickering’s freedom has come a chance at redemption, as the father recently told KRPC why he felt compelled to threaten violence that day.  It was because he wanted to save his son’s life.

Pickering recounted that his son had had seizures in the past, so he knew the procedure. He also knew that contrary to what the hospital told him in January, his son wasn’t “brain dead.”

Call it father’s intuition, but something told Pickering that the hospital was wrong to order a “terminal wean,” which would have slowly removed his son from life support. According to KPRC, someone had even already notified an organ donation organization of an incoming donation.

Pickering told KPRC “They were moving too fast. The hospital, the nurses, the doctors. I knew if I had three or four hours that night that I would know whether George was brain dead.”

No one was listening, Pickering said, so he bided his time the only way he could think of by pulling out a gun.  Pickering, who admitted that he was drunk while the incident unfolded said “At that point I had blinders on. All I knew I just needed to have this time with George.”

His desperate strategy worked because during the hours in which Pickering refused to leave his son’s room, he felt his son squeeze his hand several times on command. With confirmation that his son was responsive and wasn’t brain dead as doctors believed, Pickering peacefully surrendered.

In a written statement, the hospital said:

Physicians use their medical knowledge and experience to develop a patient’s plan of care and these actions save lives each day. When a patient’s condition makes them unable to participate in their own care, the appropriate substitute decision-maker has the right to decide whether or not they will move forward with a recommended care plan. However, that decision must be expressed in a way that does not endanger other patients or caregivers.

Today George Pickering III is healthy and fully recovered. According to KPRC, the pair share “an unbreakable bond,” running a small electrical engineering business and building their own home together.

He said “Everything good that made me a man is because of that man sitting next to me. There was a law broken, but it was broken for all the right reasons. I’m here now because of it. It was love.”


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