Chicago Police

Family, Friends Remember Victims of Mercy Hospital Shooting

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.

The family and friends of two doctors and a Chicago police officer killed in a shooting at Mercy Hospital are speaking out to share memories of their loved ones.

Juan Lopez, 32, is accused of opening fire at the hospital, killing Dr. Tamara O'Neal in the parking lot before entering the building and fatally shooting a pharmacist, Dr. Dayna Less, and Officer Samuel Jimenez.

Chicago police Supt. Eddie Johnson said O'Neal was leaving after her shift at around 3:28 p.m. Monday when 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.

During the exchange, Less was exiting an elevator when she was fatally shot, Johnson said.

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

O'Neal met the accused gunman Lopez three years ago when he was working as a security guard, her family said. They were engaged to be married in October, but she recently broke it off.

Her family said they were trying to be friends, and Lopez even went to church with the O'Neals on Sunday - one day before the deadly shooting. O'Neal's family said they don't want Tamara to be remembered as a victim, but instead want to focus on the good that she did.

"She liked the high impact of working in trauma and getting people well," her father Tom O'Neal said Tuesday.

Others remembered her as a dedicated emergency room physician who "loved helping people" and "had a heart of gold."

O'Neal's nephew Lashawn O'Neal called her "wonderful" and "caring," while Jalaysia Tucker remembered her aunt as "always the life of the party" with "the biggest laugh."

Less was a pharmacy resident at Mercy who overcame a headache disorder that required surgeries and started a blog about her struggle with the hope of helping others.

"My daughter aspired first and foremost to be the best person she could every single day of her life," her father Brian Less said of his only child.

"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.

Less had plans to get married next year.

Fellow officers and friends gather in his Edison Park neighborhood at a local bar Tuesday night to remember Jimenez, a young man with a growing family and who was proud to have recently become a Chicago police officer.

“He was a great guy," Officer Gorzerany, Jimenez's close friend through the police academy and beyond said. "He made time for everybody you know."

“He’s the last person you’d think this would happen to," he said, adding that Jimenez would "never turn his back" on a dangerous situation like Monday's shooting.

Mercy has set up a fund for donations to benefit the victims' families, and a candlelight vigil was scheduled to take place at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Chicago's Federal Plaza.

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