updated 7/30/2007 11:44:56 PM ET 2007-07-31T03:44:56

A 75-year-old man walked into a medical building Monday and started firing a shotgun but was killed by a highway patrolman, authorities in this Mojave Desert community said.

The man fired one shot on the grounds of Ridgecrest Regional Hospital and entered a medical office building, where he fired several other shots, Police Chief Mike Avery said.

The man also hit a female employee with the butt of his gun after entering the building, Ann Kapernick, a hospital administrator, told the Bakersfield Californian. Employees and patients escaped through the back door, Kapernick said.

Officers told the man to drop his gun, but he refused and pointed it at them, authorities said.

The man was shot and killed by California Highway Patrol Officer Brad Degeus, a six-year member of the force, said Paul Salazar of the patrol.

The man, who has not been identified, died immediately. Kapernick said he had previously visited the clinic.

Ridgecrest is about 110 miles north of Los Angeles, near the sprawling Naval Air Weapons Station at China Lake.

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