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No injuries reported when man fires rifle outside VA hospital on Near West Side

Peter Nickeas and Javonte Anderson, Chicago Tribune on

Published in News & Features

CHICAGO -- No one was injured when a man fired a rifle outside a Veterans Affairs hospital on Chicago's Near West Side Monday afternoon, then ran inside where he was arrested near a pharmacy as staff and patients yelled and scattered for cover, according to Chicago police.

An active shooter plan was called for the incident around 2:40 p.m. local time at the Brown VA Medical Center, but it was quickly canceled after the arrest was made and a gun recovered, police said.

"He walked up and started shooting at the building," one witness told reporters. He appeared to be reloading when "a car tried to hit him" and he ducked into the hospital, the witness said.

Another witness, Oliver Robinson, said he briefly spoke with the gunman inside.

"I walked toward the pharmacy area and a gentleman came walking past me with that big gun," Robinson told reporters. "He was like as close as you are to me. I said, 'Hey man, you don't have to go through that, put that down.' And at that time the VA police came around."

Robinson said the gunman was talking about someone who had hit him.

Darryl Jones, 71, said he was inside the clinic's cafeteria when he saw the gunman walk by. "I thought, this guy is coming to try and do some damage," he said.

Jones said people were running and screaming when they realized a man with a gun was in the center. "I was nervous."

Aaron Cannon Jr. said he was sitting in a building nearby when he heard a few gunshots ring out. "Then a whole bunch of chaos broke out, " he said. People started running, and Cannon said he fled to the men's restroom. "I was trying to get out the way. I didn't want to be in the line of fire. I already experienced that."

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The grounds around the hospital were crowded with people after the incident, including doctors and nurses in blue scrubs. Police kept watch at the entrance, barring anyone from entering or exiting.

Officers directed traffic around the congested area, which is also home to Stroger Hospital and the University of Illinois at Chicago's medical school.

In 2009, a man walked into the emergency room of the medical center and fired a shot into the ceiling, then pointed the gun at his head. The gunshot triggered a standoff with police, who negotiated through the door of an exam room before Kermit Washington surrendered.

Police said Washington, 53, had killed his parents before he entered the medical center.

(c)2019 Chicago Tribune

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