FBI Agent: Man accused in hospital shooting confessed to crime

Posted at 12:13 PM, Feb 29, 2012
and last updated 2012-02-29 13:18:42-05

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) – The man accused in last week’s shooting outside McGuire VA Medical Center appeared in Federal Court in Richmond, Virginia Wednesday morning.

Cornelius Hayes came into the courtroom escorted by U.S. Marshals wearing an orange jumpsuit and shackles. In court today he faced a possession of a firearm by a felon charge.

Last week James Stephenson Lee, an Army veteran receiving cancer treatments, was struck in the head and the eye during the morning shooting in the parking lot outside of the vast South Richmond facility. He was taken to VCU Medical Center, where his family said he was put on life support but showed no brain activity. Life support was removed. and Lee died. [Read more about the shooting]

During Wednesday’s hearing, an FBI agent named William Frank Jr., told the judge that after the shooting Hayes was arrested miles away from the medical center with a .38 caliber revolver on his lap in his vehicle.

Frank said Hayes admitted to shooting Lee.

Hayes live-in girlfriend, who works as a nurse’s aide at the VA, is Lee’s first cousin. She asid the victim and suspect live five houses apart from each other in Blackstone, Virginia.

She said Hayes had been bringing Lee to the hospital daily for the past five weeks for his cancer treatments. She said there had been no friction between the two men leading up to the shooting.

Hayes has not yet been charged with Lee’s death.

Prosecutors said other charges against Hayes are pending.

Hayes has two earlier convictions, one for assault and battery and another for discharging a firearm at or inside an occupied building. Those convictions make it illegal for him to carry a gun.

Another hearing has been tentatively set for March 19, 2012.