BUFFALO, N.Y. — Bilal Wright, still on supervised release following a 2005 robbery conviction in Buffalo that led to a 15-year prison sentence, had an appointment for counseling at the Main Street location of Spectrum Health and Human Services on March 8.
But sources say when he didn't get the news he wanted about a pending benefits application, he snapped.
"The allegation is that he threw a computer monitor, punched the victim in his head with his fist, hit the victim with a chair," Erie County District Attorney John Flynn said, following a grand jury indictment in the case.
Flynn said Wright, 44, of Buffalo attacked another worker who entered the room and tried to keep the suspect from leaving. That employee suffered injuries to his back, hand and shoulder.
Wright is then accused of fleeing into a nearby stairwell, where he ran into a female Spectrum Health worker.
"The allegation is that he grabbed the female victim's arm, shoved her to the floor, causing her to hit her head, and then subjected this victim to sexual contact," Flynn said.
The indictment on second-degree assault and first-degree sexual abuse was unsealed when Wright was arraigned before Erie County Court Judge Susan Eagan. She had previously ordered a mental health evaluation that led to the case being paused.
"He was deemed to be by two separate doctors 'not competent' to go forward at this time," Flynn said.
Judge Eagan ordered Wright to a secure mental health facility.
Flynn believes Wright will face the charges at some point, since this type of mental health finding is usually temporary. But for now, the case is on hold.
If eventually convicted, Wright could get up to 14 years in prison, since each count carries seven years, and Flynn would seek a consecutive sentence due to the nature of the case.
2 On Your Side obtained internal memos sent to Spectrum Health staff regarding the incident.
In a message to staff that was sent on March 15, a week after the alleged assaults, the company's associate CEO said, "I am aware that there have been concerns over time, and prior to COVID we were looking at additional options to put in place."
She explained several changes as a result of the alleged assaults, including placing cameras in the entrances on all levels and in the stairwells, adding secure fob access on the doors to the stairwells and hiring a security guard.
"The fact that they recognize that this occurred and then took the step to hire security is a good sign," District Attorney Flynn said.
Spectrum Health CEO Bruce Nisbet declined an on-camera interview with 2 On Your Side but provided the following written statement:
Spectrum Health followed protective protocols in the event of client aggressiveness or anger to de-escalate the situation to protect employees, clients, and visitors. Often this includes immediately calling for police support, locking down access inside a building, and providing medical intervention as necessary. That is what occurred in this case from five weeks ago, which is the first serious incident in our institutional memory where a client assaulted a staff member. Police arrested and charged the individual involved with assault and other crimes, and he remains in custody.
Injuries to staff or clients are unacceptable, which is why the building involved has secure entry restrictions to all offices locations, security cameras, and can be locked down if there is an incident. Additionally, we provided all staff members access to the Crisis Services Response team, and we continue to make those and other resources available.
We also promptly notified appropriate local and state agencies that have responsibility over Spectrum Health to provide all details and prepare to cooperate fully with any needed engagements. Because this is now a legal case, and federal health guidelines prohibit further release of information about the client, there is nothing further we can say at this time.