Chicago Mourns Slain Officer, Mercy Hospital Employees

CHICAGO — As one of the newest members of the Chicago Police Department, Ofc. Samuel Jimenez joined the force in 2017. The father of three had recently finished his probationary period with the department, and when he went to work Monday morning, he only “wanted to protect the City of Chicago,” said Kevin Graham, president of Chicago’s Fraternal Order of Police.

“He did just that, but he did it with his life,” Graham said during a press conference with other city leaders as they mourned the loss of Jimenez, who was one of four people killed when a domestic argument escalated into an “active shooter” incident Monday afternoon at Mercy Hospital and Medical Center on Chicago’s Near South Side.

Jimenez was critically wounded in a shootout between police and the apparent shooter, according to authorities. He was taken to the University of Chicago Medical Center, where was later pronounced dead.

“Those officers that responded today saved a lot of lives. They were heroes because we just don’t know how much damage [the gunman] was prepared to do,” Chicago police Supt. Eddie Johnson said regarding Jimenez and the other officers who arrived at the hospital in response to a call concerning a man who confronted his girlfriend — a doctor at the medical center — and eventually shot her, according to the Chicago Tribune.

RELATED: 4 Dead, Including Chicago Cop, In Mercy Hospital Shooting

Fellow Chicago police officers lined the sidewalk outside the U of C facility after the ambulance carrying Jimenez arrived. At 28, Jimenez should have been ushering in the beginnings of a promising law enforcement career. Instead, his colleagues held a grim procession as the young officer’s body was taken from the South Side medical center to the Cook County morgue.

Federal and state law enforcement officers escorted the ambulance about 10 miles to its destination at 2121 W. Harrison St. U.S. flags hung from ladder trucks and fire engines along the route, while online, condolences were offered from police departments and agencies from acorss the country.

“I ask each of us to hold our children, our loved ones, all that closer,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel as he held back tears at Monday’s press conference. “Remember what is important in life, that there are others who are part of our larger family who will have a tear and a hole in their lives that will never really heal, that they will always have a scar.”

Jimenez is the second Chicago police officer killed in the line of duty this year, which is the most since five officers were killed in 2010. And Monday’s procession was sadly reminiscent of the scene following the death of Chicago police Cmdr. Paul Bauer, 53.

The 31-year veteran officer was shot multiple times Feb. 13 outside the Thompson Center while trying to help tactical officers apprehend Shomari Legghette, a 44-year-old career criminal who fled officers looking to question him, according to authorities. Legghette, who was wearing body armor at the time of the shooting, faces first-degree murder and other charges stemming from the incident.

Although Monday’s press conference addressed Jimenez’s death and officers’ response to the incident, Emanuel stressed that the other victims in the shooting shouldn’t be forgotten. Dr. Tamara O’Neal, who worked in Mercy’s emergency room, and Dayna Less, a first-year pharmacy resident, were both killed in the shooting.

“The City of Chicago lost a doctor, a pharmaceutical assistant and a police officer all going about their day, all doing what they love,” Emanuel said. “This tears at the soul of the city in the face and consequence of evil.”

According to the Tribune, O’Neal, 38, and the gunman had been in a relationship, and the shooter had confronted the doctor in a hospital parking lot. The man eventually shot O’Neal, killing her.

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The shooter fled inside the hospital, and exchanged gunfire with police. It was during this shootout that the gunman’s shots hit Jimenez and Less, critically wounding both.

“That woman [Less] got off an elevator and was shot. Why?” Johnson said during Monday’s press conference.

Like Jimenez, Less, 25, was a relatively new face at her current job. She had recently graduated from Purdue University and began working at Mercy Hospital in July, according to the Tribune. She was from Schererville, Indiana, and planned to be married in June 2019, according to wedding website The Knot.

O’Neal had worked as a resident at Mercy since graduating in 2016 from the University of Illinois College of Medicine in Chicago. According to the Tribune, Patrick Connor, head of Mercy’s Emergency Department, described O’Neal as devoted to her church, and her friends struggled with the tragedy.

“My friend Tamara was senselessly murdered today. Still in disbelief,” wrote Dr. Eric Iheme, a fellow ER physician in Texas. “Rest in Heaven.”

Even those who didn’t know O’Neal personally saw her death as the result of a perfect storm of guns and a volatile and violent domestic situation.

Federal and state law enforcement members escort the body of slain Chicago police Ofc. Samuel Jimenez (Photos via Chicago Police Department)

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