Doctor Who Trained With Slain Physician Says He ‘Tried to Save Her Life'

What to Know

  • A Chicago police officer and two hospital employees died in a shooting Monday at Mercy Hospital. The suspected shooter also was killed.
  • The incident began with an altercation in the hospital parking lot, police said, where the suspect fatally shot a doctor he knew.
  • The gunman ran into the hospital. A pharmacist was shot in an elevator, and the officer was struck in the exchange of gunfire.

A Chicago emergency room doctor said he both trained with Dr. Tamara O'Neal - one of four people killed in the Mercy Hospital shooting Monday afternoon - and was part of the attempts to save her life.

"I knew her, trained with her, saved lives with her and tonight, tried to save her life," Dr. John Purakal, an assistant professor of emergency medicine at the University of Chicago, wrote on Twitter early Tuesday.

"Tonight, I broke down in front of my coworkers when we lost her, and tonight I held hands with her mother in prayer," he continued. "Tonight, we lost a beautiful, resilient, passionate doc. Keep singing, TO," Purakal said. [[500933421, C]]

Purakal said he trained with O'Neal in emergency medicine at the University of Illinois at Chicago, working with her for three years in various ER and intensive care unit settings beginning in 2014.

"One of our sites during those three years was Mercy Hospital, so I am very familiar with that facility and its staff," he said, adding that some of the victims from Monday's shooting were brought to the University of Chicago Hospital where he now works.

O'Neal was remembered by loved ones as a dedicated emergency room physician who "loved helping people" and "had a heart of gold."

"She’s one of the sweetest nieces that I have," O'Neal's aunt, Delores Davis said. "She was also dedicated to her church." [[500867271, C]]

Chicago police Supt. Eddie Johnson said the shooting - in which O'Neal and three others, including the gunman, were killed - began at around 3:28 p.m. in the parking lot of Mercy Hospital and Medical Center, then continued inside the hospital lobby.

The alleged gunman has been identified as 32-year-old Juan Lopez, according to police, who said he was in a domestic relationship with O'Neal.

O'Neal was leaving after her shift, according to the hospital, when Johnson said she and Lopez, got into a verbal altercation in the parking lot.

A friend tried to intervene in the argument, Johnson said, and Lopez lifted his shirt and displayed a handgun. The friend fled into the hospital, and witnesses said they saw Lopez shoot O'Neal at least six times in the parking lot.

As police arrived at the scene, Johnson said Lopez shot at officers before they exited their cars, and then ran into the hospital, where he and police engaged in an exchange of gunfire. [[500867451, C]]

Chicago police officer Samuel Jimenez, 28, was shot in the exchange and taken in critical condition to the University of Chicago Hospital. He later died from his wounds.

"It's with profound sadness that we share the death of PO Samuel Jimenez from tonight's senseless active shooter incident," police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi tweeted Monday. "Please pray for his family, his fellow officers & the entire #ChicagoPolice Department."

A pharmacist was killed in the gunfire as well, later identified as 24-year-old Dr. Dayna Less, according to the Cook County medical examiner's office.

She loved helping others. She was good at her job because it helped others. She was forged in her own adversity which made her the strongest person I will ever know," her family said in a statement.

"This tears at the soul of our city," Mayor Rahm Emanuel said of the shooting. "It is the face and the consequence of evil."

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