FOUR people have died including a hero police officer, an A&E doctor and a pharmaceutical assistant, after a gunman stormed a hospital on Monday.
Dr Tamara O’Neal was shot “several times” in the car park at Mercy Hospital in Chicago, Illinois, at around 3.30pm local time before the suspect ran inside.
Officers gave chase and exchanged gunfire with the man, who then fatally shot pharmaceutical assistant Dayna Less, 25, as she got out of a lift.
Police officer Samuel Jimenez, 28, who had recently passed his probation, was also shot in the crossfire and taken to another hospital where he later died.
At some point the gunman was shot, however, officers say it’s unclear at this stage whether he died from a self-inflicted injury or from a bullet by cops.
Local reports have named the suspect as Dr O’Neal’s ex-fiance, 32-year-old Juan Lopez.
What we know so far…
- Four people were killed in a shooting at Mercy Hospital in Chicago, Illinois, at about 3.30pm (9.30pm GMT).
- Three victims have been named as A&E doctor Tamara O’Neal, pharmacist assistant Danya Less and police officer Samuel Jimenez
- The fourth fatality was the gunman, named locally as Dr O’Neal’s ex-fiance Juan Lopez
- Cops say it’s not yet clear whether he was killed as they exchanged gunfire or due to a self-inflicted injury
- Officers believe the tragedy started as an argument in the car park before the gunman stormed the hospital
Hospital officials described 38-year-old A&E Dr O’Neal as a “fascinating and hardworking person”, adding that she never worked on Sunday because of her religious beliefs.
They also said Miss Less had recently graduated from Purdue University and was in her first year of training to become a pharmacist.
She had been due to return home to her parents’ home in Indiana for Thanksgiving today and had been planning her wedding, according to ABC7.
Superintendent Eddie Johnson said the tragedy started in the car park where the suspect and the doctor, who were in a relationship, were having an argument.
He said a friend of one of the individuals attempted to intervene in the dispute and the offender lifted up his shirt to display a handgun.
Cops say the acquaintance ran inside to make a 911 call before a second call was made confirming shots had been fired in the car park.
Witnesses say the man shot her and she fell to the ground before he stood over her and shot her again.
Officers rushed to the scene and the suspect fired multiple bullets at a police car, before running inside the hospital.
The hospital was stormed by a gunman shortly after 3.30pm local time (9.30pm GMT)[/caption]
Johnson said the officers gave chase and engaged the offender for several minutes with gunshots fired between both police and the suspect.
A female member of staff, who Mayor Rahm Emanuel said was a pharmaceutical assistant, was fatally shot by the suspect and officer Jimenez was also killed.
Johnson added: “That poor woman got off an elevator. She had nothing to do with nothing and he shot her. Why? We just don’t know how much damage he was prepared to do.”
The tragic young officer, who was married with three kids, had been on another job nearby when he and his partner responded to the assistance call.
Johnson said: “They did what heroic officers do – they ran towards the gunfire.
“They weren’t assigned to that call but they went because that’s what they do.”
He also confirmed a second officer was shot in his gun holster but didn’t sustain any injuries.
“The city of Chicago lost a doctor, a pharmaceutical assistant and a police officer, all going about their day, all doing what they love,” Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel told reporters.
“This tears at the soul of our city. It is the face and consequence of evil,” Emanuel said.
Paying tribute to the slain doctor, a close friend told CBS: “Tamara was one of the most persistent and resilient individuals I’ve ever met. She was loved and admired.”
Witnesses described the chaos as patients, workers and visitors were evacuated from the facility.
Eyewitness James Gray told ABC7 Chicago: “It was chaos, mass chaos.”
He described seeing a man and a woman who looked like they were talking to each other while walking towards the car park.
Mr Gray said: “The gentleman turned around and shot three times in the chest. Once she fell to the ground, he turned around and shot her three more times.”
He said he didn’t know if they knew each other, and added: “They were walking and talking and he just turned around and started shooting. It wasn’t a heated exchange.”
Witness Steve White, who was inside the emergency room, told CBS: “We heard some shots so we all ran to the emergency window, we see this guy out there, military style, shooting at the police.
“He goes pow, pow, pow, and then he turns around and whoever was laying on the ground in hospital scrubs and shoots them twice… pow, pow.
“The he runs into the hospital, we were told to stay down and then we heard more shots… pow, pow, pow.”
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“We heard more shots and we were being told to stay calm.”
He added: “It was just one gunman and he didn’t care about nobody.
“People were hollering, screaming, scared. I lost my wallet in there but they can have it.”
The hospital is not a trauma centre, so the severely injured were transported to another nearby facility.