CHICAGO — Federal prosecutors charged a convicted felon with a history of mental health issues Tuesday in connection with a shooting at a VA hospital yesterday in Chicago.
Wearing an orange jumpsuit, 40-year-old Bernard Harvey appeared before a federal judge on the 17th floor of the Dirksen building downtown Tuesday. A criminal complaint alleges Harvey fired at the outside entrance of the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center on Chicago's Near West Side around 2:20 p.m. Monday.
After, authorities say Harvey entered the VA hospital while holding a Ruger PC Carbine model 1915 semi-automatic rifle. When officers spotted him in the facility's clinic area, they ordered him to drop the weapon, and arrested him after he complied.
Authorities said previously the incident could have been far worse if not for a Good Samaritan who spotted the gunman after he dropped off his brother. Rickey Adams said he used his minivan to try and ram an individual who he believed was carrying as assault weapon.
"I said, 'I’m tired of this'... people getting shot... innocent people, kids," Adams said.
Witnesses said they thought the suspected gunman may have been searching for someone in particular.
"He had gotten into an altercation with someone and he went home, or went to his vehicle, and got the rifle," said Army veteran Leon Douglas. "And then he came back and started shooting."
Despite all the gunfire, no one was hit or injured. Veterans Affairs Police subdued Harvey within 30 seconds and did not have to fire a single shot.
“We avoided tragedy here in the city of Chicago,” Jeffrey Sallet, FBI Special Agent in Charge said after. “I can not tell you – with all the things going on in this country right now – how lucky we are."
Harvey was previously convicted of multiple felonies in Cook County, authorities said, and now faces one count of illegal possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. He faces up to ten years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Officials say the rifle was reported stolen from a licensed gun dealer in Indiana last month.
The Taylor Street entrance to the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center remains boarded up, with the glass shattered and bullet holes in the exterior walls.
The gunfire was especially jarring for some veterans, and could serve as a possible setback in treatment.
"I’m not a combat veteran, that's been in firefights," said Douglas. "Other veterans have and it is quite possible that it could trigger PTSD or something more so."
Harvey's last known address was in Indianapolis, but he has spent time in the Chicago area. In addition to past firearm and drug convictions, authorities say Harvey had spent time in psychiatric wards and has a history of psychiatric problems.
Hospital officials say they have made security adjustments and are back to operating as normal. Harvey is scheduled to appear in court next on Friday morning.