Gregory Ulrich admitted he did it. He shot five people in an attack on the Buffalo Allina Health Clinic last year, killing one of them, medical assistant Lindsay Overbay.
A Wright County jury found Ulrich guilty on all counts Thursday after deliberating for six hours. They decided that Ulrich intended to kill when he entered the clinic with a handgun and pipe bombs, rejecting his testimony that he meant only to injure.
Ulrich will be sentenced June 17. Under Minnesota law, he faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole on his conviction for premeditated first-degree murder, the most serious of 11 criminal charges he was convicted of.
“That was the only acceptable sentence in the state’s view,” Wright County Attorney Brian Lutes said after the verdict. “It won’t bring Lindsay Overbay back, but it brings a sense of justice for what happened to her.”
Lutes spoke to the media in front of the Wright County Justice Center as about 30 clinic employees stood behind him.
“I asked the people who were at the Allina clinic to come stand behind me, because this case is about them, not me,” he said. “Innocent, helpless workers who went to work that day to help people. Gregory Ulrich brought an unthinkable level of terror.
“My job is easy compared to what these people went through on Feb. 9 .”
That was the day Ulrich entered the clinic and went on a shooting spree, also setting off three bombs. As the last witness in his three-week trial, Ulrich took the stand earlier Thursday in Wright County District Court and admitted to the shootings and bombings. But he didn’t intend to kill anyone, he maintained, only to hurt them as he’d been hurt.
Ulrich had been in severe pain for more than four years after surgery on his spine and tailbone and grew angry that he couldn’t get narcotic drugs to relieve his pain, he testified. Authorities suspected him of abusing opioids, court filings show, and cut him off.
Ulrich went to the clinic that morning armed with a 9-millimeter handgun and four homemade pipe bombs.
“I planned on property damage,” he testified. “If I blow up some bombs and shoot out some windows, I’ll get some attention. I wanted to inform the public what was happening to me.”
As he entered the clinic, Ulrich testified, he realized that insurance companies would pay for property damage.
“I wanted to sensationalize more,” he said. “[Send] a louder message to get people’s attention.” So he opened fire with his pistol. His intention, he said, was to shoot his victims in the buttocks.
“I would like people to understand what pain is like down there,” he said. “After [shooting] the first person, I lost control.”
In closing arguments that followed, prosecutors said there was ample evidence showing Ulrich intended to kill. In a video he made about six weeks before the attack, Ulrich spoke of wanting to grab a pistol “and go down there and kill as many nurses as you can.”
“He did exactly what he said on that video he recorded,” Lutes told the jury. “How dare he? How dare he attack innocent, defenseless victims? What gives him the right to shoot these innocent victims to promote his twisted cause?”
Ulrich planned his attack for months, Assistant County Attorney Shane Simonds told the jury, buying a gun and ammunition, then buying materials for pipe bombs and constructing them.
“You are what you do, not what you say,” Simonds told the jury. “This is as premeditated as it gets.”
Ulrich was convicted of first-degree premeditated murder; four counts of attempted first-degree premeditated murder; one count of second-degree murder while committing a felony; three counts of first-degree assault; one count of second-degree assault, and one count of discharging an explosive device.
Acknowledging Ulrich’s admitted actions, “I’m not asking you to have sympathy for how Mr. Ulrich handled his situation,” Virginia Murphrey, chief public defender for the 10th Judicial District, said in her closing argument.
“After hearing all this, I don’t know how to talk to you about the law and not seem unfeeling and unconcerned and uncaring about this,” she said. “This was creating mayhem. This was not about killing people. I know what this sounds like. But it’s the law, and I’m asking you to follow the law.”
Ulrich, 69, showed little emotion as the verdicts were read, sitting quietly in his wheelchair with a tight grimace on his face. Before he was taken away by sheriff’s deputies, District Judge Catherine McPherson asked if he had any questions for her.
“Um … no,” he said.
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