New clues and details have emerged as investigators look into the circumstances that led to the tragic and “targeted” killing of a beloved Tennessee surgeon allegedly by a patient at his clinic earlier this week.
Larry Pickens, 29, stands accused of one count each of murder in the first degree and aggravated assault for the death of Dr. Benjamin Mauck, 43, an orthopedic surgeon who was shot and killed in an exam room on Tuesday at Campbell Clinic Orthopedics in Collierville, about 30 miles east of Memphis.
At least three bullets are believed to have struck Mauck. He was found with gunshot wounds to his neck, chest, and abdomen, according to a police report obtained by Memphis-based NBC affiliate WMC.
“There were many patients that were there, employees,” Collierville Police Chief Dale Lane said at a press conference, adding that the shooter had the opportunity to go after other employees and patients but did not do so. “This appears to be a one-on-one interaction.”
At the press conference, Lane said the alleged killer had been at the doctor’s office “for several hours” before the shooting.
Police now believe Pickens had long been a patient at the Campbell Clinic, CBS News reported. Lane told the outlet on Thursday that “he had visited multiple sites” within the network. The Campell Clinic has four locations throughout the Volunteer State and in Mississippi.
An unidentified witness told local CBS affiliate WREG that the shooter had threatened Mauck for a week before the shooting. Police previously said they had not heard about those alleged threats.
According to CBS News, a nurse at the clinic “said she recognized Pickens from previous visits” there. She also said she saw the defendant remove his black pistol from his waistband and fire the three shots.
Collierville police said they had never arrested Pickens but were checking with other agencies to see if he has a criminal record.
An investigation by WREG uncovered that the suspect had filed several police reports within the last year.
In one instance, Pickens reportedly told police that he was diagnosed with schizophrenia and had stopped taking his medication.
In another instance, he allegedly called to complain, “Someone keeps messing with his door handle.” Pickens reportedly told officers that someone was entering his apartment while he was gone because he returned home to find things unorganized.
In another instance, Pickens called law enforcement over an altercation at a barber shop. He was subsequently banned from that barber shop in November 2022, WREG reports.
A man who recognized him from his jail booking photo spoke with the TV station on condition of anonymity.
“Just a friendly person, wave, speak go about his business,” he said. “It’s real tragic to me.”
He was arraigned on Thursday morning at the Collierville Municipal Court. He is being detained on $1.2 million bond. During his first court appearance, he told Judge Lee Ann Dobson he would likely be unable to afford bail and inquired how much an attorney would cost, according to the Memphis Commercial Appeal. The judge reportedly replied that attorney’s fees depend – but that a public defender would be free to him.
Pickens is next slated to appear in court on July 20.
Mauck was mourned throughout the Memphis medical community in the immediate aftermath of his untimely slaying.
“Earlier today, we experienced a single shooter event inside our Collierville clinic,” Campbell Clinic said in a statement released after the shooting. “We are shocked and heartbroken to confirm the incident resulted in the tragic loss of one of our highly respected and beloved physicians, Dr. Ben Mauck. We ask that you please lift his family in prayer.”
Mauck also worked as a surgeon at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital in downtown Memphis. He specialized in surgeries of the hand, wrist, and elbow – and was considered excellent at his practice.
“Ben was a friend to so many of us – a respected member of our Le Bonheur family, a beloved colleague and a dedicated physician to so many patients,” the hospital’s surgeon-in-chief, Dr. Trey Eubanks, said. “We already miss him. His death is an unthinkable tragedy, and I am at a loss at what to say. I am so sorry to those who loved and knew him, for those who worked alongside him every day.”
According to his biography, the doctor graduated from Lambuth University and the University of Tennessee-Memphis. He completed his residency at the University of Tennessee’s Campbell Clinic and was previously a fellow in hand medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio.
Another longtime client of the clinic where Mauck was shot and killed offered her thoughts on the shocking violence.
“It’s a sad situation in life when you can’t even come to your doctor and not leave alive, or have your doctor killed, you know, right in the building where you come to get help,” Bette Peeper told Fox News on Thursday. “I don’t know what this world is coming to.”
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New details on man who allegedly killed Dr. Benjamin Mauck
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