A woman who was fatally shot in her home by Henrico County police on Tuesday was an artist and former nurse who was well-regarded by her neighbors, but also had struggled with mental health issues.
The police again on Wednesday provided little information about the officer-involved shooting of 57-year-old Gay Ellen Plack at her home in the 2900 block of Huntwick Court in the Wellesley subdivision, located near the intersection of Pump and Three Chopt roads.
A police spokesman, Lt. Matt Pecka, said Wednesday that Chief Humberto Cardounel will provide an update on the case Thursday.
“There’s no additional information until the chief makes his statement tomorrow,” Pecka said.
Plack’s next-door neighbor, Pamela Abada, said she was outside her home Tuesday around 10:30 a.m. when Henrico officers arrived at Plack’s house and walked around her yard and went up to the front door. An officer told Abada that they were there because Plack’s doctor had requested a welfare check.
“I’m thinking that they came to help her so I didn’t have to worry,” Abada said. “I didn’t think I needed to keep tabs on the situation.”
Abada went inside her home briefly and when she came back out, the police were inside Plack’s house, where she lived alone. Then they came outside again and were shining a flashlight into Plack’s bedroom through a window. After the police went back inside Plack’s house, Abada heard three gunshots, she said.
Neighbors on Wednesday described seeing several people carry Plack, who was moaning, out of her home to an ambulance. She was taken to a hospital but later died.
Abada said she asked a police officer whether Plack had a gun during the incident and the officer replied only that “she was armed.”
“I don’t know how this could have happened,” Abada said. “She was minding her own business in her own home.”
She said Plack’s son came to his mother’s house on Wednesday morning and spoke to Abada. He told her that the police shot his mother as “she was on her daybed in the corner” of her bedroom, Abada said.
Pecka, the police spokesman, declined to confirm or deny any of the details about how the encounter unfolded.
Abada said Plack moved into the home in 2016. After she first moved in, she had a party at her home before Valentine’s Day during which she helped friends and neighbors make cards so that she could bring them to a nursing home for the residents to send out to loved ones, Abada said.
Plack had turned one of her bedrooms into a small art studio where she enjoyed painting, Abada said.
Abada said that police had come to Plack’s house at least one other time for a welfare check, about a year ago, and that Plack did not answer the door.
One neighbor, who declined to give his name, said Plack told him on Friday that she had gotten out of a hospital about a week earlier for mental health care.
Plack had been issued a nursing license in 1994 by the Virginia Board of Nursing. But she was hospitalized in April and July of 2010 for issues related to mental health, and later that year she indicated that she wished to suspend her license to focus on healing, according to a consent order by the nursing board.
The board accepted Plack’s voluntary surrender of her license and issued an indefinite suspension in 2011.
Plack also had formerly worked as an instructional assistant for the Henrico school system.
Neighbors said Plack was very friendly but that when she would not wave at them in her normal way, they could tell something was off.
“She was not an aggressive person,” Abada said. “No one was afraid of her.”