On Monday afternoon, officers responded to an active shooting near Chicago's Mercy Hospital, the Chicago Police said on its social media channels. According to the police force's Twitter account, at least one officer was shot and left in critical condition.
"Reports of shots fired in the vicinity of 26th and Michigan near Mercy Hospital," tweeted Anthony Guglielmi, chief communications officer for the Chicago Police Department. "Avoid area. Heavy police response incoming."
Guglielmi also tweeted that officers were "doing a methodical search" of the hospital. At least one "potential offender" was also shot, he wrote, urging the public to avoid the area.
As the situation unfolded, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel was at the city's Public Safety headquarters, monitoring the situation, his communications director tweeted.
Hospital employee Clarence Smith told reporters in a video shared to Twitter by a Chicago Sun-Times reporter that he helped remove four patients after he heard gun shots. "I took the patients to safety," he said. "That’s the best thing to do, you know. I couldn’t leave them because they, you know, were disabled. It was just thought. I’d rather put myself into harms way than to let them get hurt."
Smith said that the hospital was in utter chaos at the time. "You ever seen a zebra get loose in the zoo?" he asked reporters. "That’s what it was like."
Later on Monday, Chicago police reported the death toll had gone up to at least two, including the gunman, in the shooting at Mercy Hospital. Those who were injured but survived had been taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital as well as the University of Chicago Hospital, according to authorities. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms Chicago Field Division tweeted that it was assisting local law enforcement with regards to the incident.
Based on witnesses' accounts, Chicago-based WGN9 reported that the shooting appeared to have started in the parking lot before it turned to the hospital. A Mercy Hospital nurse named Maria Teo told WGN9 that in spite of the active shooter training she received, nothing prepared her for the actual incident. "I was texting, I called my mom, whispered to her the situation. She didn’t wanna believe it," Teo told the channel.
"I texted my family and all I thought about was my kids," the nurse added. "My daughter asked me if I was okay, and all I said was 'I love you,' and she was like, 'I know something is wrong.' I’m like, 'I’m OK, I’ll text you, I just can’t talk to you right now, but I’ll keep texting you.'"
Employees at Mercy Hospital's pharmacy unit spoke with ABC7. One of them said, "You know you're safe but you're like, 'Oh my goodness, is this real?' But you're worried because you can hear that man shooting in the lobby." Based on active shooter training, the pharmacy employees said they locked down the unit down and hid inside.
Another witness named James Gray told WMAQ, "Once [the gunman] entered, he just started shooting at random. It looked like he was turning and pointing at people at random." The same witness told ABC7 that the scene was "chaos, mass chaos."
Mehreen Kasana contributed to this report.