‘We avoided tragedy’ — No injuries reported after gunman opens fire at Chicago VA hospital
No one was injured when a man fired an assault rifle at a Veterans Affairs hospital on the Near West Side Monday afternoon, then ran inside where he was arrested near a pharmacy as staff and patients yelled and scattered for cover, according to Chicago police.
The gunman fired shots inside and outside the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center at 820 S. Damen Ave. in Chicago around 2:40 p.m., authorities said during a news conference outside the medical center.
The gunman was apprehended by Veterans Affairs police officers who responded less than 30 seconds after he entered the building, according to Jeffrey Sallet, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Chicago office. The man was armed with what Sallet called an assault rifle.
“We avoided tragedy here in the city of Chicago today,” Sallet told reporters. Nine months ago, a shooting at Mercy Hospital & Medical Center left four people, including the gunman, dead.
Authorities wouldn’t disclose the gunman’s motive or say how many shots he fired, but medical center’s acting director, Lori Lohar, didn’t believe the gunman was a veteran.
“He walked up and started shooting at the building,” one witness told reporters. He appeared to be reloading when “a car tried to hit him” and he ducked into the hospital, the witness said.
Another witness, Oliver Robinson, said he briefly spoke with the gunman inside.
“I walked toward the pharmacy area and a gentleman came walking past me with that big gun,” Robinson told reporters. “He was like as close as you are to me. I said, ‘Hey man, you don’t have to go through that, put that down.’ And at that time the VA police came around.”
Robinson said the gunman was talking about someone who had hit him.
Darryl Jones, 71, said he was inside the clinic’s cafeteria when he saw the gunman …read more
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