A police officer and the shooter were killed as well in an attack that sent the hospital's ER into chaos as the attacker and police exchanged gunfire inside the building.
A shooting left four people dead Monday at Mercy Hospital & Medical Center in Chicago, where a man shot a hospital employee outside the facility then charged into the emergency department, where he and police exchanged fire, sending patients and medical staff scrambling for safety.
A doctor, a pharmaceutical assistant, a police officer, and the shooter all died as a result of their injuries sustained in the attack, which began after a verbal domestic dispute between the shooter and his first victim, city officials said during a press conference.
"This tears at the soul of our city," Mayor Rahm Emanuel said. "It is the face and consequence of evil."
Witnesses described a chaotic scene as they sought cover from the crossfire.
"He was shooting in the back, and all the women started yelling and the kids started crying," said Steven White, one of more than 20 patients waiting for care in the emergency department when the attack began, as The New York Times' Mitch Smith reported from Chicago. "That's when the sarge came in, and said, 'Stay down.'"
The streets around the hospital campus in the city's Bronzeville neighborhood were closed off by hundreds of emergency responders, as at least four TV news helicopters circled above, as the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
Hospital employees told The Chicago Tribune that they heard instructions over a public-address system to lock their doors. As authorities swept the building and evacuated those in hiding, people were moved to public transit buses, the Tribune reported.
A national survey last year found that healthcare professionals were significantly more likely than the general public to say the risk of an active-shooter incident in a hospital is "high" or "very high." They were also significantly less likely than the general public to say they believe hospitals are "somewhat" or "very" prepared for such an attack.
Steven Porter is an associate content manager and Strategy editor for HealthLeaders, a Simplify Compliance brand.