Questions linger about why terminally ill doctor killed Austin pediatrician in hostage standoff

Dr. Lindley Dodson and Dr. Bharat Narumanchi


LOS ANGELES (Austin American Statesman) — Days after Austin police identified Dr. Bharat Narumanchi as the man behind a hostage standoff in Central Austin that ended in his suicide and the death of pediatrician Dr. Lindley Dodson, a 43-year-old mother of three, his exact motives are still unknown.

But interviews with colleagues and witnesses indicate that terminal illness and a desire to be closer to family members brought him to Austin.

Obstetrician Dr. H. Joseph Khan was a colleague of Narumanchi’s at Paramount Care Medical Group in Santa Ana, Calif., before the pediatrician came to Austin six months ago, he said.

“He wanted to be close to his (family), and he also was suffering from some kind of health condition,” Khan told the USA Today Network, referring to the cancer.

Narumanchi, 43, told Khan that he sought treatment for cancer at UCLA, but Khan said he was unaware of any history of psychological problems or signs he was taking medication. Upon learning about the hostage standoff and the killing, Khan said he was shocked.

“He does not look like a serial killer. I read on the internet that he had a gun. I think he’s not that type,” Khan said.

Dr. Tammy McConnell is consoled by Angie McLarty at a memorial for Dr. Katherine Lindley Dodson outside of the Children’s Medical Group on West 35th Street on Wednesday, January 27, 2021.Dr. Tammy McConnell says that Dr. Dodson was her colleague.
Dr. Tammy McConnell is consoled by Angie McLarty at a memorial for Dr. Katherine Lindley Dodson outside of the Children’s Medical Group on West 35th.

Khan also was unaware of any connection Narumanchi might have had with Dodson. Khan said Narumanchi worked on and off at the California clinic “for some time” but less than a year.

With his illness, Narumanchi thought they would take care of him, Khan said. “And he said when he got better he was going to come back. Austin police responded at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday to a 911 call reporting that a man, later identified as Narumanchi, was holding hostages at the Children’s Medical Group pediatric offices on 35th Street near MoPac Boulevard (Loop 1). When officers arrived, five employees and Narumanchi were still inside.

“Several hostages initially escaped and others were later allowed to leave with the exception of Dr. Katherine (Lindley) Dodson,” authorities said in a written statement.

Victoria Ishaak, who was among those who escaped, told the American-Statesman that Narumanchi pointed a gun at her and a co-worker.

“He pointed his gun at my co-worker and told her to go get the doctor. … And then he points the gun at me and tells me to go lock the front door,” Ishaak said.

CMG employee recounts escaping the Austin hostage situation
Victoria Ishaak remembers escaping from her office when Bharat Narumanchi entered with a gun and shares why Lindley Dodson was a great boss.

The hostages told police that Narumanchi entered the office carrying a pistol, a shotgun and two duffel bags.

After police tried to communicate with Narumanchi for several hours, a robot with a camera went inside and spotted the body of at least one person. SWAT officers stormed the building and found Dodson and Narumanchi dead.

Investigators think Narumanchi shot himself after shooting Dodson.

On Thursday, his parents released a statement saying they “wish to extend our most sincere condolences and most fervent prayers to the family, friends and colleagues of Dr. Lindley Dodson. We share your grief for a life so senselessly cut short.”

“We don’t understand our son’s motives or actions but feel this time is best spent remembering Dr. Dodson and her contributions to this world,” they said. “We are cooperating with the investigators as they seek to make sense of this tragedy.

“The consequences of this action will live with us forever and we can only hope that faith, spiritual healing and God’s light will guide us through the darkness of this moment,” they said.

Narumanchi is not known to have any link to Dodson. Some of the hostages said they first encountered him a week ago when he applied for a volunteer position at the Children’s Medical Group clinic, which includes Dodson and several other physicians. A staff member said Dodson did not come into contact with Narumanchi at that time.

“We feel like his terminal cancer probably played a large part in whatever it was in his life that was happening (Tuesday),” Austin police Lt. Jeff Greenwalt said Wednesday. “The family was entertaining the hospice care step and that process.”

Police declined to say what kind of cancer he had, but Greenwalt said Narumanchi’s family members have agreed to cooperate with the investigation.

Dr. Bharat Narumanchi died after a standoff Tuesday with Austin police at a local pediatric clinic. Austin police say Narumanchi took another doctor hostage before.

“We’ve asked for them to share with us anything they might learn over the next few days and weeks in terms of providing any type of closure. They promised to do that for us,” Greenwalt said. “They have expressed interest in wanting to reach out to the victim’s family, too. This is a shock to them, as it is to the rest of us.”

Police also hope Narumanchi’s friends or family members can recall any behavior that might provide clues to his motives.

“A lot of times, suspicious behavior is not so suspicious when it’s happening, because you’re just not thinking about that,” Greenwalt said. “But when you look backwards and think with 20/20 hindsight, now knowing what happened, little things that weren’t suspicious at the time mean more.”

What’s known about Dr. Bharat Narumanchi’s actions before the Tuesday slaying remains limited, and police have asked anyone with information to call police at 512-974-8477, email detectives at, or reach out to Crime Stoppers at 512-472-8477 or through the Crime Stoppers app.