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Gunman arrested after firing assault rifle in Brown VA hospital

Chicago police said officers responded to the hospital near Taylor Street and Damen Avenue about 2:20 p.m. for reports of shots fired. A person was taken into custody and a weapon was recovered.

People stand outside the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center, 820 S. Damen Ave., after a person with a weapon was arrested following reports of shots fired at the hospital Aug. 12, 2019.
People stand outside the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center, 820 S. Damen Ave., after a person with a weapon was arrested following reports of shots fired at the hospital Aug. 12, 2019.
Sam Charles/Sun-Times

Police at the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center apprehended a man armed with an assault rifle within 30 seconds after he opened fire both inside and outside the hospital Monday afternoon.

The officers heard the gunfire at about 2:20 p.m. near the Taylor Street entrance to the hospital just west of Damen Avenue and rushed over. The man was taken into custody without police firing a shot, according to the FBI.

No injuries were reported.

“Nobody was hurt, there was nobody injured, there was nobody hit,” said Jeffrey Sallet, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Chicago field office. “We avoided tragedy here in the city of Chicago today.”

Sallet declined to say how many rounds the man fired or what could have motivated the shooter, who did not make any statements to federal authorities upon his arrest.

As of Monday evening, the suspect was being interviewed by Chicago police detectives at Area Central headquarters.

Any criminal charges against him would be brought on the federal level, as the hospital is operated by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Sallet said the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois was “evaluating” charges Monday evening.

Lori Lohar, the hospital’s acting director, said the suspect is “believed not to be a veteran.” Tom Ahern, a spokesman for the CPD, said the suspect has a criminal history and is associated with several addresses.

Monday’s shooting came about nine months after a gunman opened fire at Mercy Hospital and Medical Center on the South Side, killing a doctor, pharmacy resident and a Chicago Police officer. The gunman was also killed.

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