Covenant chief pathologist shot to death - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

Covenant chief pathologist shot to death

Lubbock Police responded to an apparent homicide scene at 4603 21st St. Wednesday. Lubbock Police responded to an apparent homicide scene at 4603 21st St. Wednesday.
Dr. Joseph Sonnier (Source: Covenant Health System) Dr. Joseph Sonnier (Source: Covenant Health System)

Dr. Joseph Sonnier, the Chief Pathologist for Covenant Health System in Lubbock was found shot to death in his home on Wednesday afternoon.

At around 1:50 p.m., LPD received a call to assist in checking a residence at 4603 21st Street. Police were asked to do a welfare check when Dr. Sonnier failed to respond to pages and missed meetings at Covenant Wednesday morning. While en route, landscapers at the house found a broken window, and eventually found Dr. Sonnier, 57, dead from a gunshot wound.

"It was an absolutely shock to everybody, I mean it's a tragedy in untold proportions," said Covenant's Chief Medical Officer Dr. Robert Salem. "No one could have conceived something like this happened. The whole health system is in deep grief and shock."

As police blocked off 21st street, neighbors, friends and co-workers still dressed in their scrubs swarmed Sonnier's yard to show their respects. "Just our presence there was an indicator of how well respected and revered he is and was," said Salem.

Neighbors tell us the house across from Sonnier's has been broken into several times in the past few months. Those neighbors have security cameras installed around their home and they will be cooperating with police. 

While police have released very little information about the homicide, one thing is for sure – Dr. Sonnier was loved by many and will be greatly missed by the medical community.

"He was intelligent, articulate yet he was affable and easy to talk to. He was one of those guys who would roll up his sleeves and work side by side with his employees. Certainly he will be missed and we extend our sympathies to his family and he will always be in our memory," said Salem.

Representatives from Covenant Health System released this statement on Wednesday afternoon:

The entire Covenant family is deeply saddened to hear of the loss of Dr. Joe Sonnier. He was loved by our staff, physicians and all who he encountered every day. Dr. Sonnier joined the Covenant staff in 2006. He served in leadership positions at Covenant such as section chief of pathology and most recently served as medical director of the pathology department. He was a tremendous supporter of the Covenant Foundation, March of Dimes and many other charities. Many lives were touched and brightened by his presence. Our prayers are with his family and friends.

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