CHICAGO – A Chicago police officer and two hospital workers were killed Monday by a gunman who carried out a grisly assault at a city hospital.
The shooter, who has not been identified, also was killed in the incident. An emergency room doctor, Tamara O’Neal, and a pharmacy tech, Dayna Less, were the other victims in the afternoon shooting at Mercy Hospital on the city’s South Side.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel called it a devastating moment for a city that for years has endured daunting levels of gun violence. It was a bleak end to a day that started with the city celebrating the graduation of the newest class of 88 police officers and the promotion of 275 newly-minted detectives, sergeants, lieutenants, evidence technicians and field training officers.
“The city of Chicago lost a doctor, a pharmaceutical assistant, and a police officer all going about their day, all doing what they love,” Emanuel said. “This tears at the soul of our city.”
The top prosecutor for the Chicago area, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, called the violence at the hospital senseless.
“The violence that occurred today at Mercy Hospital is horrific,” Foxx said on Twitter. “The County mourns the victims who lost their lives, including CPD Officer Samuel Jimenez for making the ultimate sacrifice to save the lives of others. May we uplift the families of those harmed and our city.”
Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said the incident was spurred by a domestic altercation that started outside the hospital between the gunman and O’Neal.
An acquaintance of O’Neal arrived at the scene, and the gunman lifted his shirt, displaying a handgun. The acquaintance ran into the hospital and the gunman fired shots at the doctor, Johnson said.
Johnson said the gunman, who was armed with a lone handgun, fired shots at Jimenez and another officer who had arrived at the scene before running into the hospital. Additional officers arrived at the scene and engaged the gunman for several minutes inside the hospital.
“During the exchange of gunfire, a female staff member was struck by gunfire,” Johnson said, referring to the pharmacy tech. “During that exchange, one of our officers … was also fatally wounded by the offender.
Johnson said it was not clear if the gunman was killed by police gunfire or a self-inflicted wound.
Steven Mixon, an emergency room clerk, told the Chicago Tribune that he was waiting outside the hospital for an Uber when he saw the doctor “being harassed by some gentleman.” He said she waved to him to come to her.
Mixon said he didn’t make it to her before the gunman began shooting.
“I guess it wasn’t my time to go because if I had made it to her, I would have been dead too,” Mixon said.
Jimenez, a father of three, joined the department in February 2016 and had just ended his required probationary term.
Another officer was hit by a bullet in his holster during the chaotic exchange but was not seriously injured, police said.
Kevin Graham, president of Chicago’s Fraternal Order of Police union, praised the fallen officer.
“Today, the Fraternal Order of Police lost a valued brother — a courageous police officer who got up this morning, went to work and wanted to protect the city of Chicago,” Graham said. “He did just that, but he did so with his life.”
Johnson said he was certain the police’s quick response saved many lives. Jimenez and his partner were not assigned to the call but responded anyway.
“There is no doubt in my mind that all those officers who responded are heroes,” Johnson said.
Steven White, a patient at the hospital who had been waiting to be discharged, said the shooting started near the emergency room entrance.
“It was, ‘Pow, pow, pow,’ ” said White, who was treated for dehydration at the hospital.
White said he could see through the window the woman lying on the ground.