Gunman fires at entrance to Chicago VA hospital, arrested ‘seconds’ after entering

CHICAGO — An armed man fired at the entrance of a Chicago veteran's hospital Monday afternoon before stepping inside, where officials say he was quickly arrested before anyone was injured in the incident.

The unidentified man fired an assault-style rifle at the Taylor Street entrance of the Jesse Brown Veterans Affairs Medical Center around 2:18 p.m. Monday, according to FBI Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey Sallett.

As he entered the building and fired additional shots, Sallett said the gunman was quickly met by VA Police.

"Within 30 seconds of that firing, the VA police responded and mitigated the threat. Nobody was hurt, there was nobody injured," Sallett said. "We avoided tragedy in the city of Chicago today."

Oliver Robinson says he was praying as the gunman walked past him inside the hospital.

“It’s a Jesus moment. I was praying,” Robinson said. “He walked past me, as close as we are and I said, hey man you don’t got to do that, put the thing down you’ll be alright.”

Witness Michael Watkins shot video of the arrest on his smartphone. He says police managed to take the suspect to the floor, and get the weapon.

“He has the rifle, and the VA police grabbed the rifle from him and put him in custody," Watkins said.

Sallett said the police managed to take the man into custody without "firing a single shot."

Watch above: Chicago police, FBI speak after a man with a rifle fired shots inside the Jesse Brown VA Hospital Monday afternoon

Officials said they have no insights into motive or whether the gunman had any connections to the hospital. Jesse White VA Medical Center Acting Director Lori Lohar said they believe the gunman was not a veteran.

Chicago police initially received reports of shots fired near Damen Avenue and Taylor Street in the Illinois Medical District, but after the gunman entered the VA hospital, first responders and authorities treated the incident as an active shooter.

CPD Deputy Chief Christopher Kennedy said the hospital was searched by police, and no ongoing threat was found.

Witnesses inside the hospital at the time said the thought of a mass shooting set off a panicked rush toward the exits.

“We got information that it was a shooter and everybody just started running,” one witness said.

Given a number of mass shootings across the U.S. this summer, Sallett said they need people to "pay attention" to prevent similar incidents.

"I cannot tell you with all the things that are going on in the country right now how lucky we are," Sallett said.

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