Tragedy was very narrowly averted on Monday in Chicago when a gunman armed with a rifle opened fire at a veterans’ hospital, but was taken into police custody before anyone was harmed.
Chicago Fox affiliate WFLD reported that the shooting incident occurred outside the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center on Monday afternoon, but was over almost as soon as it had begun.
“We avoided tragedy here”
The unnamed suspect reportedly began shooting outside the hospital as he attempted to make his way into the lobby, but police officers already at the scene responded almost instantaneously and took him into custody without firing a single shot.
“Nobody was hurt, there was nobody injured, there was nobody hit,” Jeffrey Sallet, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Chicago Field Office, told reporters.
“We avoided tragedy here in the city of Chicago today,” he added.
Sallet declined to offer much in the way of specifics about the attempted shooting — such as how many shots were fired or any insight into the shooter’s possible motivation — other than to note that the gunman made no statements when taken into custody by the officers.
Shooter likely to face federal charges
Given that the shooting incident occurred at a federal facility — the hospital is managed and operated by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs — any prosecution of the gunman will emanate from federal prosecutors and not local authorities.
As of Monday evening, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois was reportedly “evaluating” what sort of charges might be pressed against the assailant.
Though the suspect’s identity has yet to be revealed, a hospital official told reporters that he was “believed not to be a veteran,” making it all the more unclear why he would attempt to open fire at a veterans’ hospital.
A spokesman for the Chicago Police Department did indicate, however, that the suspect is an individual known to them with a prior criminal history.
Violent summer in Chicago
This apparent attempted mass shooting at the veterans’ hospital comes roughly nine months after a similar event at Mercy Hospital and Medical Center in Chicago in which a gunman shot and killed a doctor, a pharmacy resident, and a police officer in a shootout before himself dying of gunshot wounds.
The shooting incident also came on the heels of a particularly bloody weekend in the Windy City during which roughly 50 people were shot — and at least five killed — in dozens of incidents spanning the short time period between Friday and Monday morning.