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West Town community honors neighbor Dayna Less, killed in Mercy Hospital attack


The West Town neighborhood came together Friday evening to remember the life of Dayna Less, a neighbor who was gunned down earlier in the week at Mercy Hospital. | Nader Issa/Sun-Times

The West Town community came together Friday evening for a candlelit vigil to honor a neighbor who was one of three people killed by a gunman Monday at Mercy Hospital.

About 40 people gathered Friday to remember the life of Dayna Less, a pharmacy resident set to marry her high school sweetheart next summer. Less was fatally shot as she stepped off an elevator inside the hospital.

Half a dozen Chicago Police officers were among those who stood in the rain, candles in hand. A fellow officer, Samuel Jimenez, also was killed at the hospital. The incident had started when Dr. Tamara O’Neal was confronted by her ex-fiance outside the hospital; she called 911, summoning Jimenez and other officers to Mercy. She was shot and killed not long after placing that call.

Liz Tomka, 39, said she didn’t know any of the three victims, but felt she needed to organize the vigil once she found out Less lived in the neighborhood.

“It’s important for those more closely impacted to know that there are people supporting them,” Tomka said. “This is the daily reality of our city.”

Also attending was Less’ fiance, Adam Keric, and some of the couple’s friends, sharing hugs and memories.

The gathering, lasting almost an hour, was the latest effort to help people deal with a tragedy that touched countless lives.

Since the shooting, doctors, medical workers, neighbors, police officers and anti-violence organizers have held vigils across the city to honor the victims and protest domestic violence and gun violence.

On Wednesday, a crowd of about 100 held a candlelight vigil at Federal Plaza. They discussed how the tragedy occurred at the intersection of domestic violence and gun violence, both issues that disproportionately affect people of color — especially black women like O’Neal.

Tuesday, a few dozen doctors and hospital workers shed tears outside Mercy Hospital as they mourned the deaths. Later that day, a Northwest Side bar was packed with officers and fellow police academy recruits to remember Jimenez’s life and raise money for his family.