Indiana man charged after he fired shots at VA hospital in Chicago

By ROSE L. THAYER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: August 13, 2019

An Indiana man with a history of gun convictions has been charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm after he opened fire at a Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in Chicago, authorities said Tuesday

Bernard Harvey, Jr., 40, of Indianapolis is a convicted felon who used a stolen semi-automatic weapon to fire shots Monday afternoon at the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Northern District of Illinois said Tuesday.

A criminal complaint filed in the U.S. District Court of Chicago describes the scene that began at about 2:18 p.m. and closed the hospital for the remainder of the afternoon.

Harvey arrived at the Taylor Street entrance of the medical center and began firing a Ruger PC Carbine 9mm rifle outside the building. A witness told law enforcement that he observed Harvey shooting the weapon.

The gunman then entered the VA facility and fired at least one round in the atrium, according to the complaint. VA police officers encountered Harvey as he walked through the clinic area holding the butt of the rifle in the air and the muzzle toward the ground. When officers ordered him to drop the weapon, he did.

Police located two bullet holes on the outside of the building, one in the door and one in the ceiling near the Taylor Street entrance.

The rifle was reported stolen on or about July 27 from a licensed gunowner in Indiana, according to the complaint. Illegal possession of a firearm by a convicted felon is punishable by up to 10 years in prison, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Harvey’s criminal history dates to a 1998 conviction of unlawful possession of a firearm, followed by a drug conviction in 2000 that landed him six years in prison, according to the criminal complaint.

During a Tuesday afternoon hearing, Harvey was ordered to remain in jail with no bail set. He is listed as an inmate at the Chicago Metropolitan Correctional Center.

Harvey is not believed to be a veteran, according to Lori Lohar, acting director of the medical center. Authorities declined to comment on what connection he might have to the facility.

During the incident, no one was injured.

“I cannot tell you, with all the things going on in this country right now, how lucky we are and how blessed the city of Chicago is that we are out here talking about a subject who has been in custody, but did not hurt anyone,” said Jeffrey Sallet, the special agent in charge of the FBI in Chicago.

He said they were not yet ready to discuss any possible motive and Harvey had not made a statement to police.

The 220-bed VA medical center returned to normal operations Tuesday, according to a post on the medical center’s Facebook page.

“Although the threat from this shooter has been eradicated, security has been increased,” according to the social media post. However, the Taylor Street entrance where the shooting occurred is closed for construction.

Located on Chicago’s West Side, the VA facility provides care to about 62,000 military veterans in five counties. It has about 2,000 full-time equivalent staff, including more than 200 physicians and 450 nurses.


Twitter: @Rose_Lori

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