Chicago Hospital Held First Ever Active-Shooter Drill Weeks Before Gunman Opened Fire

Joshua Lott Getty Images

Just weeks before a gunman went on a shooting rampage inside Mercy Hospital in Chicago, Illinois, the health care center held its first ever active-shooter drill. USA Today reports that the exercise, which may have helped prevent even more deaths, was meant to help prepare employees in the case of the kind of active-shooter situation that took place on Monday.

Gunman 32-year-old Juan Lopez approached a woman in Chicago’s Mercy Hospital’s parking lot on Monday around 3:30 p.m. He lifted his shirt to reveal his weapon and then apparently opened fire.

Policemen responded to 911 calls about the weapon and gunshots, but before they could even leave their cars, the shooter opened fire on them. He then ran into the hospital with officers following behind, where he engaged in a gun battle with the policemen.

Three people were killed in the shooting, including a 28-year-old officer named Samuel Jimenez, an emergency room physician named Tamara O’Neal, and a pharmacy resident named Dayna Less. Lopez also died, though it isn’t clear if he shot himself or was killed by police.

“Every shooting in America is a tragedy, and it is especially senseless when a shooting occurs in the healing space of a hospital,” the hospital said in a statement.

The hospital had begun to prepare for an incident of this nature with an active-shooter drill held a few weeks ago. Many of the hospital employees participated in the training, which included classroom and internet instruction followed by the live drill.

Mercy’s chief medical officer Michael Davenport said that it seems as though some employees followed the training guidelines, carrying out the “run, hide, fight” recommendation set forth in the training. He believes that the training helped people do the right thing in the situation.

“Never in our wildest imagination would we ever think that we would have to experience the day we have. It is our inclination, I can speak for myself, you don’t feel well when you’re hiding. You want to open up a door and you want to see what’s going on and you want to help. But everyone did what they were trained to do,” he said.

Employees echoed Davenport’s feelings. One employee said that when she heard gunshots, she and others pulled down security shutters and barricaded themselves in a place away from the gunman.

“We heard more gunshots and arguing,” pharmacist Joan Fortune said. “We stayed barricaded for about 30 minutes until the police (arrived), and we ran out a back [exit].”

Chicago police paid their respects to fallen officer Jimenez last night, and the community is just now beginning to gain some understanding about the act of violence.