Douglas Brant, 56, a homecare nurse in Spokane, Washington, was shot and killed by his patient’s grandson, Mitchell Chandler, during a homecare visit. Brant was visiting the home that his patient, her husband, and grandson shared. It was Brant’s first visit to the home.
Local media outlets describe Brant as a “once-in-a-lifetime kind of guy” who worked tirelessly for his patients, adding more patients to his already-full schedule, and teaching guitar lessons in his spare time. He even sometimes combined his love of patient care and music at the same time, picking up a guitar and playing for his patients. Brant held the position of treasurer with the Washington State Nurses Association (WSNA) and the organization released a statement saying they are “heartbroken” by the loss.
According to the Spokesman-Review, Brant arrived to care for his patient, Jean Chandler at her mobile home park at 1:30 PM on Thursday, December 1st. It was the first time that the nurse had visited Jean in her home, which she shared with Willard, her husband, and Mitchell, the couple’s grandson. Jean had recently suffered a stroke and Brant was there to discuss ongoing plans of care, along with her medications.
According to the police report, both Willard and Jean were in the living room with Brant while Mitchell was cooking in the kitchen. Mitchell was in full hearing distance of the living room, court records noted, so he could hear the conversation occurring between the grandparents and Brant.
Jean described that after talking for about an hour with Brant, she heard “three loud booms” and Brant said, “I’ve been shot.” Brant put his computer down, and tried to stand up, but fell to the ground. Willard tried to help him, then went to get Mitchell for help. At that point, Mitchell walked into the living room from the kitchen and shot Brant again while standing over him.
Jean attempted to talk to her grandson, but he walked away without speaking and left the house, according to her recollection. After Mithcell had left, Jean called the police. He was caught by police 20 hours later in the area on skis that he had removed from a storage unit.
A Troubled History
The Spokesman-Review website states that Court documents note that Mitchell did not know Brant or have any previous encounter with him prior to murdering him, but did add that Mithcell had a history of being “very protective” over his grandparents. His grandmother testified that Mithcell does have mental health issues incurred after brain injuries acquired from bull riding. According to the court documents she said he is “paranoid” but also opposes taking medications.
Mitchell was previously arrested for assaulting a vet who removed his grandmother’s dog’s tooth, after which the dog died. He also has a history of threatening to shoot developers at a construction site, for which he was arrested.
Fox28 also noted that Mitchell stayed inconsistently with his grandparents and sometimes was homeless or lived out of his car. After police apprehended him, he was charged with second-degree murder and booked in the Spokane County Jail on a $1 million bond.
A Compassionate Nurse
Brant had been with Providence Home Health for over two decades and the organization released a statement over the loss.
“We were heartbroken to learn about the loss of a Providence Home Health caregiver who was killed yesterday afternoon while on a visit to provide care to patients in their Spokane home. We extend our deepest condolences to his family. We are also supporting his coworkers, who are devastated by the tragic loss of their friend and colleague.”
The WSNA also released a statement that spoke to both Brant’s loss and the overarching issue of violence toward nurses that continues to plague the nursing workforce:
“We were heartbroken to learn of the murder of a valued home-health nurse and WSNA member, Doug Brant, on Dec. 1. This is devastating to his family, his patients, his colleagues at Providence VNA, and to WSNA.
Doug was treasurer of WSNA at Providence VNA and was looking forward to advocating for nurses at WSNA’s annual Lobby Day.
While the circumstances of this tragedy are still being investigated, we know this murder took place while Doug was on the job. Workplace violence has become an all-too-familiar part of the job for nurses – and it shouldn’t be. In fact, workplace violence against nurses has risen during the pandemic. We hear of nurses being punched, kicked, scratched on a too regular basis, but a killing is rare and horrific.
Our thoughts are with Doug’s family and colleagues as they absorb the violent loss of a co-worker and friend.”
Tributes to Douglas poured in on social media, with nurses and community members alike remembering a hardworking nurse who went above and beyond and was filled with “so much compassion.”
There are no firm numbers on how often violence happens toward healthcare workers who are caring for patients in their homes. Because of a challenge in reporting and processes, it is suspected that even known incidences are highly underreported. According to a 2021 meta-analysis, it’s estimated that around 15% of homecare healthcare workers experience physical violence while caring for patients, while over 50% experience verbal abuse.