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.
Family of Samuel Jimenez, the Chicago police officer who died trying to stop a gunman inside Mercy Hospital this week, said he was a hero long before he wore a badge and gave his life to save others.
The 28-year-old always dreamed of going good and leaves behind a legacy of service, said his cousin Maria Nina Salgado.
"My hero. He was always my hero since he was a kid. He was always my left hand helping me with the girl. He was there… not as a cousin but as a big brother,” she said.
When news first broke that the rookie officer was among three victims fatally shot inside the hospital by a gunman, who was also killed in the shooting, his family was devastated.
“I call my mother and I ask, ‘Is it true? Is he really dead?’” Salgado's daughter Cecelia Ruiz said. “With much regret in her voice she admits that he was gone. At that moment I just felt like everything crashed down.”
Police said Jimenez was shot during an exchange of gunfire inside Mercy Hospital Monday. The shooting also claimed the lives of Dr. Tamara O'Neal, 38, and pharmacist Dr. Dayna Less.
"Tonight, Officer Samuel Jimenez was shot and fatally wounded in a despicable act of violence," Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson said in an email to police. "We are all deeply saddened by this tragic event and asked that everyone keep his family and co-workers in their thoughts and prayers."
He was described by many as a hero who saved lives until the end.
"It takes a certain kind of person to do that - to run into gunfire," Supt. Eddie Johnson said Tuesday, adding, "there's no telling how much loss of life we would have had" if Jimenez and other responding officers hadn't chased after the gunman.
Jimenez, who grew up in the city’s Portage Park neighborhood, was a husband and father with a smile that could light up a room, his family said.
“When it was Mother’s Day, my birthday - he was always the first one with flowers,” Salgado said.
Now as the city mourns the fallen officer, the Jimenez family will be forced to confront the countless holidays he will be missing from.
“Him and me shared the same birthday. And I could never see my birthday the same,” Salgado said.
A funeral for Jimenez is set to take place Monday in Des Plaines, officials announced Wednesday. A visitation is slated for Sunday.