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Suspected Brown VA hospital gunman charged with illegal gun possession

Bernard Harvey Jr., 40, is charged with illegal possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, according to a criminal complaint filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court.

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.
A man is facing a federal weapons charge after allegedly firing a rifle Aug. 12, 2019, at the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center, 820 S. Damen Ave.
Sam Charles/Sun-Times

An Indianapolis man accused of firing a rifle inside the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center on the Near West Side earlier this week has been charged with illegally possessing a gun.

Bernard Harvey Jr. entered the hospital, at 820 S. Damen Ave., about 2:30 p.m. Monday carrying the Ruger PC Carbine Model 19115 rifle, federal prosecutors said.

Minutes earlier, several people called 911, reporting someone shooting a gun near the southwest corner of the hospital.

Officers inside the hospital saw Harvey walking through the clinic area “while holding the butt of a rifle in the air with the muzzle of the rifle pointed at the ground,” according to a complaint filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court. Harvey dropped the rifle when the officers ordered him to do so and was placed under arrest.

The rifle was reported stolen from a federal firearms licensee in Indiana on July 27, prosecutors said.

Following Harvey’s arrest, investigators found shell casings consistent with the rifle outside the hospital’s Taylor Street entrance along with one casing inside the hospital near the same entrance, prosecutors said. They also found bullet holes in the ceiling and door.

Harvey, 40, is charged with illegal possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

Harvey was previously convicted for a state count of illegal gun possession in 2005 and was sentenced to four years in prison, according to Cook County records. Records from the Illinois Department of Corrections show he was released on probation in February 2006.

Harvey’s criminal history in Cook County also includes a 2006 conviction for criminal trespass to property, for which he was sentenced to 25 days in prison. In 2005, he was charged with trespassing on CTA property. And in 2002, he was charged with unlawful possession of a weapon and soliciting unlawful business.

In 1996, Harvey was convicted of defacing a firearm and was sentenced to 150 days in prison, according to county records.

He was also found guilty of drug charges in 2000, and illegal gun possession charges in 1998, according to the complaint.

Harvey is scheduled to make his initial appearance in federal court later Tuesday, the U.S. attorney’s office said in a statement.

Harvey can face up to 10 years in federal prison if he’s convicted.