Reviewing that have poured in for Tamara O’Neal, MD, a Chicago doctor who was shot and killed Monday by her ex-fiancee, it’s a tweet from a former classmate that’s worth capturing “I knew her, trained with her, saved lives with her and tonight, tried to save her life,” tweeted John Purakal, MD, an ER doctor at the University of Chicago hospital. “Tonight, I broke down in front of my coworkers when we lost her, and tonight I held hands with her mother in prayer.”
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
Purakal explains to Yahoo Lifestyle in a Twitter direct message, that he did his residency training with O’Neal from 2014 to 2017, and was one of the physicians working in the University of Chicago hospital emergency department, Monday afternoon when O’Neal was rushed in.
Purakal wrote on Twitter “Tonight we lost a beautiful, resilient, passionate doc, “Keep singing, TO.”
O’Neal, who is a native of Indiana, reportedly worked two jobs while preparing for medical school, and was on the part of being an excellent doctor. She was an active member of her community’s church.
O’Neal’s ex-fiancé, Juan Lopez was the one who carried out the shooting. She broke off an engagement with him in September. Eyewitnesses testified seeing the two arguing before Lopez shot O’Neal several times before he ran into the hospital and continued shooting.
Other victims who were fatally shot inside, a pharmacy first-year resident and a Chicago police officer.
The shooting of O’Neal, in the hospital where she worked, is particularly painful for the medical community, falling in the midst of a moment when doctors are actively spurring against the National Rifle Association with the hashtag #ThisIsOurLane.
For many, the timing was impossible not to mention. “Are you really still asking if @ThisIsOurLane,” tweeted Joseph Sakran, a trauma surgeon at John Hopkins Medicine.
Michael Gonzalez, MD tweeted “It isn’t the first time this kind of violence was brought, literally, to our doorstep, claiming one of our own, “Shouldn’t it be the last?”
It isn’t the first time this kind of violence was brought, literally, to our doorstep, claiming one of our own. Shouldn’t it be the last?
— Michael Gonzalez, MD (@Zindoctor) November 20, 2018
For some others the incident is a time hit on firmer gun control, while for others it’s a time to grieve those who have been lost. With O’Neal, people are mourning the loss of a beloved doctor, congregation member, singer and friend.
June Chae tweeted, a doctor in Minnesota “This is a mere glimpse of what a vibrant person Dr. O’Neal was “a photo of her when she matched at UIC for residency.”
— June Chae (@Chaeface) November 20, 2018
I was in the trenches at #mercyhospital as a resident in the same program as Dr. O'Neal. She was a resident when I was a fellow. This loss on my old home turf is too much. We lost a @feminem, a @UICBrownCoat, and a #BlackWomeninMedicine.
— JT (@JillianTheobald) November 20, 2018
Yesterday we lost a sister, Dr. Tamara O'Neal.
Today we collect for her funeral. We will support her family.
Tomorrow we galvanize in action. We will honor her memory. We will change the world.https://t.co/kB3GdqNPq1
— FemInEM (@feminemtweets) November 20, 2018
Dr. O’Neal also had grit, that most magical of qualities. There are very few female POCs in our field; they don’t get there by accident. It’s an uphill journey. She had to be special, tenacious, a stand-out doc.
— Esther Choo MD MPH (@choo_ek) November 20, 2018
Possibly most vocal thus far has been Dara Kass, MD, founder of Feminem, an organization for female doctors in emergency medicine. Kass on Tuesday, set up a fund to pay for O’Neal’s funeral and tweeted out a simple but heartbreaking message. “Today we mourn. Tomorrow we change the world,”
She wrote “RIP Dr O’Neal We are so sorry we couldn’t protect you.”