LA PORTE, Ind. — The doctor murdered by her former fiancé at a South Side hospital Monday was a fun go-getter and talented physician, according to friends and relatives.
Dr. Tamara O'Neal, 38, was one of three people gunned down at Mercy Hospital and Medical Center at 2525 S. Michigan Ave. about 3:30 p.m. Monday. The others were a Chicago police officer and a first-year pharmacy resident.
Speaking from the family’s La Porte, Indiana, home on Tuesday, O’Neal’s relatives recalled a fun, loving and ambitious woman.
“She wasn’t the type of person that was shy,” father Tom O’Neal said. “She was very open. She loved life.”
Tamara O'Neal was a middle child, sister, aunt and friend. She’s someone who wouldn’t take “no” for an answer. She was smart and determined, and overcame many obstacles to become a doctor. She loved deeply.
“I always say her smile brightens up any room — very passionate, fun loving,” sister-in-law Jennifer O’Neal recalled.
Nephew Brandon O’Neal said, “She was a fun person to be with. She was very kind.”
Tamara O’Neal was very involved in her church in La Porte and actively volunteered at school clinics. She worked in the emergency room at Mercy for the past two years.
“Being a doctor, going into emergency medicine, high energy, high impact — that’s where she felt the most comfortable,” her father said.
Colleagues at Mercy said Tamara O’Neal was highly respected and an excellent physician. Dr. Patrick Connor, director of the emergency room at Mercy, said he’d want O’Neal to be his physician in an emergency situation.
When Tamara O’Neal was accepted to the UIC residency program, she wrote in an article, “I know the future is going to be great! I know I’m going to be the best physician I can possibly be.”
I knew her, trained with her, saved lives with her and tonight, tried to save her life. Tonight, I broke down in front of my coworkers when we lost her, and tonight I held hands with her mother in prayer. Tonight, we lost a beautiful, resilient, passionate doc. Keep singing, TO. pic.twitter.com/NLQpX1rZIn
— John Purakal, MD (@JohnPurakal) November 20, 2018
This is the face of the amazing emergency physician Dr Tamara ONeal, at work today, before she was murdered.
— Megan Ranney MD MPH (@meganranney) November 20, 2018
"It would be disrespectful for us not to be just as resilient as Tamara in this situation."
-Dr. Joy Cobbs talks about her friend and colleague Dr. Tamara O'Neal. This picture was taken hours before O'Neal was shot and killed at Mercy Hospital. @WGNNews @WGNInvestigates pic.twitter.com/C1MDmRvXUk
— Ben Bradley (@BenBradleyTV) November 21, 2018
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This may be the last picture Dr. Tamara O’Neal ever took. It was taken with my Sorority Sister and Nurse Practitioner, @paynebush , Monday about an hour before Dr. O’Neal attempted to leave work— about an hour before she was gunned down by her ex fiancé outside Mercy Hospital. My Soror tells me she and Dr. O’Neal worked closely together and yesterday they had a particularly good time laughing and listening to Christmas music. Dr. O’Neal was so excited about Christmas, her tree has been up since October! Monday the two worked side by side for hours, up until about 5 minutes prior to the shooting. Nichelle says when she heard the gunfire, she barricaded herself in an ER patient room with about 7 other people (patients and hospital staff). As the gunfire sounded right outside their door, the group prayed and some even called their loved ones to say what they thought would be their final goodbyes. By the grace of God, my friend made it out of that room alive— and so did everyone with her. She’s learned of colleagues who worked desperately to save and stabilize Dr. O’Neal, Dayna Less and Ofc. Samuel Jimenez before they were rushed to trauma centers. Tonight I’m not only praying for those who lost loved ones yesterday, I’m also praying for those who survived to tell their stories. 🙏🏾🙏🏾🙏🏾