Domestic violence, gun control in spotlight at vigil for Mercy shooting victims
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Two days after the Mercy Hospital shooting, doctors, medical workers and anti-violence organizers gathered along with a handful of Chicago police officers in Federal Plaza on Wednesday night to honor the victims.
For many in the crowd of about 100, it was an opportunity to highlight the issues of gun control and domestic violence.
Kina Collins, founder of the Chicago Neighborhood Alliance, said the tragedy exemplified the intersection of domestic violence and gun violence, both issues that disproportionately affect people of color — especially black women like Dr. Tamara O’Neal, who was slain by her ex-fiance Monday at Mercy.
“Domestic violence essentially took three lives on Monday,” said Collins, the main organizer of Wednesday’s vigil. “Toxic masculinity is at the heart of so many of these mass shootings and acts of domestic terrorism.
“We know what the problem is, we can see the red flags, but we aren’t safeguarding people.”
O’Neal was fatally shot Monday afternoon in the parking lot of Mercy Hospital by her ex-fiance, Juan Lopez, who also killed Chicago Police Officer Samuel Jimenez and pharmacy resident Dayna Less before being shot by police and also turning the gun on himself.
The attack reignited a war of words between many members of the medical community and the National Rifle Association, which put out a statement last month urging “self-important anti-gun doctors to stay in their lane” after the American College of Physicians called for tighter gun control laws.
Hundreds of doctors have responded on social media with gruesome images from their emergency rooms showing the aftermath of victims hit by gunfire and sharing their stories of treating gunshot wounds.
“This is our lane,” Northwestern Medicine Dr. Mamta Swaroop said. “This is the police’s lane. This is everybody’s lane.”
Meredith Reynolds, a doctor at the University of Chicago Medical Center, went to the Wednesday vigil to show solidarity with the medical community. While completing her forensic certification at the Cook County medical examiner’s office, Reynolds assisted on autopsies on gunshot victim’s as young as 14, she said.
“It’s jarring and sad to see what it does to young people,” Reynolds said. “It affects everyone, from the victims to the people behind the scenes to the public. Something needs to change.”
“We need to stop handing out concealed-carry permits so casually,” said Margaret Sents, an activist with the group People for a Safer Society. “Universal background checks shouldn’t even be a question.”
Chicago police have said Lopez used a semi-automatic handgun that he reloaded twice, firing more than 30 rounds during his rampage.
O’Neal’s family has said she broke off her relationship with Lopez a few months ago and “he couldn’t let it go.”
“Hopefully this is a tipping point,” said Carla Kupe, an attorney with the Impact Alliance. “There needs to be a record of a person’s behavior, their warning signs. This shooter showed warning signs.”
Contributing: Associated Press
• Fellow doctor recalls trying to save Tamara O’Neal: ‘It was just a tragic thing’
• Father of slain Mercy Hospital doctor: ‘Tammy’s profession was to save lives’
• It’s a Twitter war: Doctors clash with NRA over gun deaths
• A father’s thank-you to Mercy Hospital’s Dr. Tamara O’Neal
• EDITORIAL: NRA says docs should ‘stay in their lane’ on guns; tell that to Mercy Hospital, CPD