Fri | Dec 14, 2018

A demand for a ring, an eruption of gunfire and four dead

Published:Wednesday | November 21, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Ziff Sistrunk, left, and Donovan Price, place crosses at a memorial at Mercy Hospital, Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2018, in Chicago, the day after a shooting at the hospital. (Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune via AP)

CHICAGO (AP):

Moments before her ex-fiance fatally shot her in the parking lot of the hospital where she worked, a Chicago doctor called 911 to report that she had spotted the man and feared for her life, police said Tuesday.

As investigators tried to piece together the events that ended with the deaths of the doctor, a police officer, a hospital employee and the gunman, they were able to fill in details about the attack on Monday at Mercy Hospital on the city's South Side.

Dr. Tamara O'Neal had recently called off her engagement to Juan Lopez so when she saw him, she called for help. She also told an acquaintance in the parking lot that she was afraid before that person retreated to the hospital to call 911 as well.

When Lopez confronted her, the former couple argued about O'Neal calling off the engagement, and Lopez demanded that she return the engagement ring. Then, police said, people inside and around the hospital heard gunfire.

O'Neal fell to the ground. A witness, James Gray, looked out of the hospital window to see where the gunshots had come from and watched as Lopez "stood over her and shot her three more times," he told reporters.

As a squad car pulled up, Lopez turned his Glock semi-automatic handgun on police, striking the vehicle multiple times before he ran into the hospital. Officers gave chase.

Once inside the medical centre, he kept firing at officers and at one point turned and fired at Dayna Less, a first-year resident in the hospital's pharmacy, when the doors of the elevator she was on opened.

Officer Samuel Jimenez was struck in the neck, just above the bulletproof vest he was wearing, and soon died. Jimenez had been delivering his station's mail to the post office when he turned and followed other squad cars racing to the hospital.

There were indications that Lopez wanted to shoot even more people, including an account from one witness, Jennifer Eldridge, who was hiding in the pharmacy, when she heard the gunfire and the sound of the gunman jiggling the handle of the locked door, an apparent effort to get in.

During the exchange of gunfire, Lopez was shot once in the abdomen. It was then that Lopez, who fired a total of more than 30 shots and had reloaded his weapon, put the gun to his head and killed himself, police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said.

Investigators said they found nothing to indicate that Lopez had a criminal record. At the time of his death, he was an employee with the Chicago Housing Authority, and officials there said there had been no reports of any problems in his nine months on the job.