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Written by Steve Birron
A man demanding opioid painkillers for his wife shot and killed a doctor in Indiana Wednesday after he refused to prescribe the addictive medication.
Michael Jarvis and his wife met with physician Todd Graham Wednesday morning during a scheduled appointment to seek out a prescription for opioids. Graham allegedly told the couple he does not believe in treating chronic pain with powerful painkillers, and declined to write the script. Jarvis, angered by Graham’s refusal, returned to the doctor’s office two hours later and followed the doctor to St. Joseph Rehabilitation Institute, reports The Washington Post.
Jarvis argued with him briefly in the parking lot of the facility before taking out a gun and fatally shooting Graham. He fled the scene to a friend’s home, who subsequently called the police, but Jarvis took his own life before officers could apprehend him.
“There were two witnesses who were outside and in close proximity,” St. Joseph County Prosecutor Ken Cotter said Thursday, according to WaPo. “Jarvis went to those two witnesses and told them to leave. They saw a gun.”
Indiana suffers from high rates of drug abuse, largely linked to prescription opioids and heroin. Roughly 100 people die each month from drug overdoses in the state, giving Indiana the 17th-highest rate of drug overdose deaths in the country.
Police said they are still investigating the incident and do not know if Jarvis or his wife had an opioid addiction. Police are looking through medical records to determine the couple’s history with opioid medication, and are not yet revealing which type of painkiller they initially requested from Graham.
“He did what we ask our doctors to do: Don’t overprescribe opioid, and, unfortunately, for whatever reason, Jarvis made that choice to take his life,” Cotter said, according to WaPo. “Every homicide is tragic, but this one in particular, I think, hits home to everyone. It hits home to all of our medical professionals. Their job is to try to help people, and that certainly what Dr. Graham was doing.”
Graham was a partner at South Bend Orthopedics and served on the executive committee. He is survived by his wife, Julie, and three children.
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