‘This tears at the soul of our city’
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A Chicago Police officer, a doctor and a pharmacy resident were shot to death Monday at Mercy Hospital in Bronzeville.
The suspected gunman was also killed, though it was not known if he was killed by police or took his own life.
Officer Samuel Jimenez — who joined the CPD less than two years ago and was assigned to the 2nd District, which sits just blocks south of Mercy — was the second Chicago Police officer to be killed in the line of duty in 2018.
The doctor was identified as 38-year-old Tamara O’Neal, an emergency medicine physician. She grew up in Portage, Ind. and was a resident of La Porte.
The other employee was Dayna Less, a 25-year-old, first-year pharmacy resident who was a recent graduate of Purdue University. She lived in the West Town neighborhood.
The shooter was identified as Juan Lopez, 32, of the North Park neighborhood, according to a police source and the Cook County medical examiner’s office. Additional information about Lopez was not released.
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“This tears at the soul of our city,” a visibly grief-stricken Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Monday night. “It’s the face and consequence of evil.”
Jimenez, 28, is survived by his wife and three children.
“He was the real police. He wasn’t in it just for the paycheck,” said an officer who worked with him.
Dr. Patrick Connor, the Emergency Department director at Mercy, said O’Neal, 38, was a “wonderful individual” and “simply one of the most fascinating, hardworking persons.”
O’Neal was very dedicated to her church. “She never worked on Sundays,” said Connor, stopping several times during a Monday night news conference to compose himself.
The shooting took place less than a mile from where former President Barack Obama was taking part in the Obama Foundation Summit at the Marriott Marquis Chicago hotel.
It was the worst fatal shooting involving a police officer since the 1988 slaying of Officer Irma Ruiz. Ruiz was one of four people a gunman killed in a shooting spree at the Montefiore School, 1300 S. Ashland, before Ruiz’s partner shot and killed the gunman.
A gunfight with police
The chaotic scene unfolded about 3:30 p.m. in a parking lot on the South Side hospital at 26th and Michigan.
Speaking about five hours after the shooting at the University of Chicago Medical Center, CPD Supt. Eddie Johnson said the shooter was in an argument with a woman he was in a relationship with.
A friend of the woman was also there, and the gunman lifted his shirt and displayed a handgun, Johnson said. The friend ran into the hospital and, moments later, the man shot the woman.
A call of shots fired came across police dispatch and, as police arrived, the gunman opened fire on the officers. He then ran into Mercy as officers gave chase and called for backup, Johnson said. Jimenez was among the officers who rushed to the hospital.
“When they pulled up, they heard the gunshots, and they did what the heroic officers always do — they ran towards that gunfire,” Johnson said. “They weren’t assigned to that particular call but they went, because that’s what we do.”
Once inside, a minutes-long gunfight ensued, with the shooter killing Jimenez and another woman who worked at the hospital, Johnson said. The gunman was also killed, though investigators didn’t know if he killed himself or was killed by officers.
Another bullet struck an officer in his gun holster, but that officer was not wounded.
James Gray, who was inside the hospital at a clinic area at the time, said he first saw the shooter talking to a woman outside. They appeared to know each other and were having a normal conversation.
A few moments later, the man shot the woman repeatedly. After she fell, he continued to shoot, Gray told reporters outside the hospital.
“I thought it was unbelievable. It’s like a movie scene,” Gray said.
Tracy Lyons, a cancer patient, had just finished a session of radiation treatment and was walking out of the hospital when she saw a gunman outside shoot at two police cars as they drove up.
“All of a sudden you hear five or six gunshots … pow, pow, pow, pow, pow,” Lyons said as she saw the shooting unfold.
She went inside to warn hospital employees about the shooting and wound up hiding inside a utility room for about 15 minutes before SWAT officers evacuated her and others there, she said.
‘Chaos, chaos, chaos’
Monique Hubbard was in the hospital’s pharmacy, where she works as a technician, when the shots — “Just pop, pop, pop” — rang out.
“The patients said, ‘somebody’s shooting on the outside,’” Hubbard said. “Then it [the gunfire] got closer. Once it got closer, we went in . . . [another] technician and I just shut the shutters and we went into our boss’ office and we locked the doors.”
Clarence Smith, a Mercy employee, was with four patients when he heard the gunfire erupt.
Soon after he heard a call of a “Code Silver” — meaning an active shooter was present — and his first priority was to keep his patients safe.
“I was trying to keep a man, about 80 years old, calm,” Smith said outside Mercy. “Where I was at, I had another disabled guy who couldn’t walk and two other patients. So, I was just trying to contain them and keep them calm ’til CPD told us to come clear. I had to get them about one at a time because police were still looking for the active shooter.”
Smith works often in the emergency room at Mercy and he said the feeling in the room was “chaos, chaos, chaos.”
“You ever seen a zebra get loose in a zoo? That’s what it was like,” he said.
Andre Patterson has spent the last three nights in Mercy with his wife, a patient at the hospital.
About 3 p.m., he walked out the hospital’s east entrance to have a cigar when he heard four or five gunshots from what he believed to be a large-caliber gun.
“Rapid-fire,” he said of the gunshots.
Moments later, dozens of officers swarmed the area and told Patterson to get back.