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Chicago hospital shooting: Shooter dead, at least 3 others, including police officer, wounded at Mercy Hospital

Chicago Tribune logo Chicago Tribune 19-11-2018

Video by Reuters

A man believed to be the shooter responsible for wounding a Chicago police officer and at least two other people in an “active shooter” attack Monday afternoon at Mercy Hospital and Medical Center on the South Side was dead at the hospital, sources said.

The officer was critically injured in the shooting about 3:20 p.m. at the hospital at 2525 S. Michigan Ave. in the Bronzeville neighborhood, a police spokesman said. He was taken to the University of Chicago Medical Center.

“He is in critical condition but receiving excellent care,” police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said. “Please send your prayers.”

In a tweet, Guglielmi said there were “reports of multiple victims” in the attack. At last four people were believed shot, according to an official.

“At least one possible offender is shot,” Guglielmi said in another tweet.

The gunman was dead at Mercy Hospital, sources said.

After the attack, an emergency medical services Plan III was called, sending at least 15 ambulances to the scene, for an “active shooter” situation, a Fire Department spokesman said.

About 4:40 p.m., the hospital announced by tweet that police had secured the hospital “and patients are safe.”

Location of Mercy Hospital Witnesses said that before the shooting began, the shooter had been talking to a woman who became his first victim.

James Gray saw at least two people get shot. Gray said he was coming out of the clinic area when he saw a man in a black coat, black hat and dark pants shoot a woman three times in the chest. The man and the woman had been walking and talking to each other before the shooting, said Gray. The gunman stood over the woman and shot her three more times after she fell to the ground, said Gray. Then a squad car turned its lights on and came down the drive and the gunman shot at the squad car.

"It was chaos,” said Gray. "It was just mass chaos.”

When the gunman came into the hospital, it appeared that he was shooting people at random, said Gray, who saw one other person who was shot.

“And then I ran into the X-ray department and locked the door behind us,” said Gray.

"I thought it was unbelievable,” said Gray. "It’s like a movie scene. Nothing like that ever happened to me before."

Hector Avitia was watching television in a waiting room at the hospital with his wife when the woman was shot. Avitia watched through windows as a person in blue scrubs was shot outside and fell to the ground, he said. Officers exchanged fire with the shooter, and the shooter reloaded and fired again at the victim on the ground, Avitia said. The shooter then made his way inside the hospital as Avitia and those with him hid by a desk.

"Oh my God,” said Avitia, when asked how many gunshots he heard. "Reloaded twice. So 32 bullets each."

Avitia said he had never seen anything like the shooting before. “I’ve heard shootings,” he said. "I’ve known people that have died in the neighborhood like that. But something like that? No."

Avitia said he was more alert than scared for his life.

“It’s just a messed up situation and I was trying to help out as much as I could,” he said. "Get people to get out of the way of the windows. Because he could have easily just aimed at us, too. Because he was just shooting like a maniac. And he obviously knows how to shoot because he was holding the gun with both hands."

Erix Horton, who works in environmental services at the hospital, spoke to a Tribune reporter while outside smoking a cigarette after being inside the hospital when the shooting occurred.

“I was checking out, getting ready to leave,” said Horton. “One of the nurses ran back here and it was like she was about to collapse and said (a staff member had) been shot. And she’s like, ‘Call the police. We have an active shooter.’ And that¹s when everybody took cover. They got on the PA, letting everybody know."

Horton said he took cover with others in the break room across from the ER, which has a combination lock, until police entered and escorted everyone out. A Fire Department crew that had just brought in a patient took cover in the room also, Horton said.

While in the break room, they could hear someone firing gunshots in the hallway, eight or nine of them, Horton said.

"We had to duck,” Horton said.

"A lot was going through my mind,” Horton said. "Make it home to see my wife and my kids."

"Everybody was just worried about the rest of our coworkers making it out safe,” Horton said.

Moments after Charlie Wells walked into the emergency room to treat an injury, he heard gunfire and dove behind the registration desk. He sat huddled there with about 15 other people. He heard screams, and more gunfire.

Wells, 37, said people dropped to the ground. “It was chaos,” he said. “All panic.”

Tanisha Smith held her 10-year-old daughter’s hand and walked quickly away from Mercy Hospital. They were visiting Smith’s grandfather at the hospital when someone yelled at them to run. Smith grabbed her daughter and sprinted toward a waiting room, looking frantically for a door.

They couldn’t find one, so they hid under a desk.

“I heard gunshots,” the girl said while she clutched her mother’s hand while an officer hurried them away from the scene.

A hospital employee said she was in her office when a notice came over a public address system telling those in the hospital to lock their doors. They were later evacuated and people were put on CTA buses as authorities dealt with the situation.

“I don’t know what happened,” she said as she was ushered onto a bus.

“They told us to run so we did,” one hospital employee said.

In the confusion of the first moments, it was unclear how many people were shot, how many officers were among them and how many shooters there were.

As dispatchers and responding officers tried to make sense of the scene, reports came in of an officer shot somewhere in the lobby, a woman and a lab assistant also wounded. Finally, there was word of the gunman apparently shot in the head.

Even then, dispatchers continually checked whether more than one officer was shot and more than one gunman was involved and may still on the loose.

"How many officers shot," a dispatcher asked repeatedly over the police-band radio.

"Trying to find that out," an officer radioed.

Officers rushed to lock down the first floor of the hospital for a search, then closed off the stairwells. "We're checking for victims," a dispatcher said. "We also needs officers on the third floor to check the nursery."

By 4 p.m., the officer was being escorted to the University of Chicago Medical Center.

Meanwhile, medical personnel continued to be brought out of the hospital by police, who radioed ahead to warn officers outside. Family members of victims were routed to an area of the parking lot.

Check back for updates.

Police officers close off an area near Mercy Hospital on Chicago's Near South Side, where there was an active shooter situation and multiple people were reported shot, on Monday, Nov. 19, 2018. Emergency crews were called to the hospital, 2525 S. Michigan Ave., about 3:20 p.m. (Erin Hooley/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images)

Police officers close off an area near Mercy Hospital on Chicago's Near South Side, where there was an active shooter situation and multiple people were reported shot, on Monday, Nov. 19, 2018. Emergency crews were called to the hospital, 2525 S. Michigan Ave., about 3:20 p.m. (Erin Hooley/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images)
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