The gunman opened fire in the parking lot at 3:20 pm, and then ran into the hospital.
At the time of the shooting, I was on a bus, and, halfway home, the bus started getting passed by police cars and ambulances, sirens screaming. I remember thinking that whatever it was looked big and I hoped everyone was okay. My bus went right by Mercy at 3:30 that afternoon. My wife texted me, literally as my bus drove by the hospital, that there was an active shooter and she was locked up safe with a group of other people. They had barricaded the door.
I got off a block later, where we live, and watched it all unfold on TV. My wife and I continued to exchange texts for the next few hours. I was glad about this. It helped me know she was safe, even as I was watching what was happening on TV.
I am so proud of Chicago PD for their fast response. They had a swarm of people there within minutes of the first call for help.
Likewise, I proud of Chicago Fire for their fast response. Not knowing how many people would need to be evacuated, they sent a fleet of ambulances to help get people out.
I am grateful of the response of Mercy Hospital. They had the hospital locked down within minutes of the gunfire. I very appreciate their efforts to keep their patients and employees safe.
During the lockdown, a call for help went out across the hospital. I am in awe of the handful of Nurses, Residents, and Attendings that left the safety of where they were to answer the call for help for the people who were shot. They kept the victims alive long enough to get them out of the hospital and to UC Medical. Though Dr. O’Neal, Officer Jimenez, and Pharmacist Less all died, the team that responded are the heroes that ran into potential danger to try to save their lives. I wish I had better words to express how deeply and profoundly touched I am by the bravery and selflessness of their actions.
In the days after the shooting, my wife took shifts to help cover the Emergency Department. Dr. O’Neal was an Attending in that department. The people she worked with were given some time to work through their loss. Employees in the hospital, including my wife, were also given some time to sort out their feelings about what happened. My wife has told me that the hardest part for her was not leaving her safe, barricaded room to answer the call for help. She told me that the most direct route from where she was to where she would have had to go to help was in the direct path of the gunman. In fact, Dayna Less was shot coming off of the elevator my wife would have used to answer the call.
And that’s how close I came to losing the person who means most to me in the world a mere week ago.
This is a crazy world and safety is not guaranteed. Accidents happen. People die every day. I understand that. However, the Constitution promises us that we should be able to go about our day-to-day activities without fear of being killed. (It’s in the preamble, the part about “insure domestic tranquility.”) And let me tell you, getting shot at in a hospital, or anywhere else, isn’t tranquil.
I get that guns are a touchy topic in America, so I’ll just say this: the laws we have aren’t working. If they were working, we wouldn’t keep having mass shootings.
It’s time to start making some nationwide changes to gun laws, and I hope gun owners can be a part of those conversations. The goal of gun reform shouldn’t be to get rid of the guns, but to regulate them better. Other countries have systems that work. We should steal ideas from what is working. It’s time.
Gun reform. Now.