CHICAGO: A gunman at a Chicago hospital on Monday (Nov 19) killed a police officer and two others before dying in the shooting, which sent doctors and patients streaming out of the facility, officials said.
The gunman opened fire in the parking lot outside the hospital before bursting into a lobby at the facility and opening fire there as well, witnesses told local television stations.
A police officer, Samuel Jimenez, died in the attack, a police spokesman said on Twitter. The gunman also died, the Chicago Fire Department said on Twitter.
"A #ChicagoPolice officer has been shot in the active shooter incident at Mercy Hospital. He is in critical condition but receiving excellent care. Please send your prayers," Anthony Guglielmi, a Chicago Police Department spokesman later added.
Officials had said two other people were also struck by gunfire, and an investigator at the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office later said those two people also died.
Police cars and ambulances swarmed the hospital after the shooting.
Police have not commented on a possible motive for the shooting.
ABC7 Chicago and CBS Chicago, citing sources, reported that two people died in the shooting, including the gunman, and that two other people were wounded.
TV footage showed people filing out of the hospital into a parking lot with their hands in the air. Patients described hearing shots ring out from the outside of the hospital as they waited inside.
One witness named by the local CBS television affiliate as Hector Avitia said he was with his wife waiting for test results when he saw a gunman dressed in black fire on someone on the ground multiple times in the parking lot.
He said the gunman was carrying a handgun with multiple clips.
"Then almost immediately, an officer was already coming in an SUV and he exchanged fire at them and then reloaded and shot the person on the ground again and then he made his way into the hospital and more shots were fired," another witness recalled.
"SCARED AS HELL"
James Gray told reporters that he saw the gunman and a woman walking together toward the parking lot, before he suddenly shot her three times in the chest.
"And once she fell to the ground, he stood over her and shot her three more times," he said, adding that the shooting played out "like a movie scene."
"They were walking and talking and he just turned around and started shooting. It wasn't a heated exchange. It was just like we're talking now," Gray said.
The shooting came less than two weeks after a gunman killed 12 people in a California music bar packed with college students.
That rampage followed the worst anti-Semitic attack in modern US history, when a gunman opened fire on worshipers at a synagogue in the US city of Pittsburgh on Oct 27.
The incidents have added to the growing outcry over gun safety in the United States, where there have been more than 300 mass shootings this year.
Bypassers across the street from Mercy Hospital spoke of hearing between six and nine gunshots that initially sounded like construction noise.
"I am scared as hell. I have never been so scared, I hear of shootings going on every day at people's workplaces, but not where I work at," an employee of the hospital's family clinic told the local ABC television affiliate.
Mercy, founded in 1852, has locations throughout Chicago and provides outpatient treatment and acute inpatient care, boasting doctors who are leaders in their field.
A hospital employee quoted by the Chicago Tribune said she was in her office when a notice came over a public address system telling those in the hospital to lock their doors.
"I don't know what happened," the unnamed employee told the Tribune. "They told us to run, so we did."