Today

Four Dead After Gunman Opens Fire at Mercy Hospital

Four people were shot and killed at Chicago’s Mercy Hospital & Medical Center on the South Side Monday afternoon.

Shortly after 3:00pm a man identified by police Tuesday morning as Juan Lopez confronted Dr. Tamara O’Neal, believed to be his ex-fiance, in the parking lot of the hospital. Eyewitnesses parked in a nearby van told WGN that O’Neal was at one point running from the hospital attempting to call police and asked not to be left alone because she feared for her life. Lopez demanded an engagement ring from O’Neal, and when she told him she didn’t have it, he retrieved a 9mm handgun and began shooting her.

“The guy comes really quickly from behind the van and just pulls out a gun and shoots her six times before she even hits the ground,” the witness told WGN.

As police responded to the scene, Lopez fired on them before they were even able to exit their vehicle, according to the Chicago Tribune. Among those responding to the call was Officer Samuel Jimenez, a rookie cop on the force for less than two years. Jimenez exchanged gunfire with Lopez, who ran into the hospital. Lopez continued to fire during the chase, shooting and killing Officer Jimenez.

A third person, Dayna Less, a recent college graduate training to be a pharmacy tech, was killed by gunfire while exiting the elevator during the melee.

“The city of Chicago lost a doctor, a pharmaceutical assistant and a police officer all going about their day, all doing what they love,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel at a press conference at the University of Chicago Medical Center. “This tears at the soul of our city. It is the face and the consequence of evil.”

Lopez also died at the scene, but it was unclear Tuesday morning as to if he was killed by fire from police or if the gunshot was self-inflicted. Police radio traffic indicated O’Neal had called them from the parking lot, and other chatter indicated officers were taking fire. “Caller says she doesn’t see the gun, but he threatened he would shoot her and himself,” said one voice on the radio.

“I ask each of us to hold our children, our loved ones all a bit closer,” Emanuel said. “Remember what is important in life and that there are others who are part of our larger family who will have a tear and a hole that will never heal–always a scar.”

“When they pulled up, they heard the gunshots, and they did what heroic officers always do — they ran toward that gunfire,” Johnson said of Officer Jimenez and his partner. “So they weren’t assigned to that particular call, but they went because that’s what we do.”

Hospital officials say they had their first active shooter training drill about three weeks ago, and that about 200 patients were at Mercy at the time of the shooting.

“We have prepared for active shooters just because of the world we live in today…we never thought we would have to experience what we had,” said Michael Davenport, Chief Medical Officer, at a press conference late Monday night. “Everyone did what they were trained to do. Our hearts go out to the lives that were lost and we’ll all need healing, to say the least.”  

“A hospital should be a safe place,” said Patrick Connor, director of emergency medicine. “Every shooting in America is a tragedy — it is a national tragedy. And it is especially senseless when a shooting occurs in a healing space of a hospital.”

 

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