Chicago Doctor Among Three Americans Shot Dead In Afghanistan
By John Dodge
CHICAGO (CBS) — A pediatrician from Chicago was among three Americans shot and killed Thursday by a security guard at a hospital in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Dr. Jerry Umanos was shot when he went to the gate to receive his American friends. Those two, who Afghan officials said were father and son, were also killed when the guard opened fire.
One American nurse was wounded, and two others escaped injury.
CURE International Chief Financial Officer Mark Knecht said the security guard was not a CURE employee.
He said the guard shot himself shooting the others.
“He was initially treated at the CURE Hospital, and has now been transferred out of our facility into the custody of the government of Afghanistan,” Knecht said.
CURE Hospital is a Christian charity hospital set up by Americans: the board of directors and managers are primarily from the states, and but there are very few Americans among the doctors. The facility specializes in maternal and pediatric care. CURE is the first hospital recommended on the U.S. Embassy website for those seeking medical treatment in Afghanistan.
Jan Schunitema struggled to explain the loss of her husband, Dr. Jerry Umanos.
“Our family and friends have suffered a great loss and our hearts are aching,” said Jan Schunitema. “He was always a light for Christ and he had a love and commitment that he expressed for the Afghan people because of that love.”
Umanos had worked at CURE Hospital for the past seven years. He also worked for 16 years at Lawndale Christian Health Center, which has four locations in Chicago.
“This loss is a great loss for his family, for those of us he worked with, as well as for the people of Afghanistan. He was a loving, caring physician who served all of his patients with the utmost respect,” said Bruce Rowell, chief clinical officer at the Lawndale Christian Health Center. “At this time we’re trying to help our staff process and mourn this great loss.”
“We have lost a dear friend. Our clinic is grieving right now. Our hearts are broken. So we ask that you pray for his family, pray for our clinic, pray for our patients and staff,” said James Brooks, the chief ministry officer at LCHC.
Patient Stephanie Green said, “It just breaks my heart. I know we all have a day, but to die in the way that he did – loving God’s people – that’s so cruel.”
There have been unconfirmed reports that the shooting fits a pattern by the Taliban of going after groups that it believes are trying to convert Muslims to Christianity. There have been several other attacks on foreigners in recent months.
The Minister of Health, Dr. Suraya Dalil, called this incident “ absolutely inhuman shocking.”
The attacker was a member of the Afghan Public Protection Force assigned to guard the hospital, according to District Police Chief Hafiz Khan. He said the man’s motive was not yet clear.
Umanos completed medical school training at Wayne State University School of Medicine and residency at the Children’s Hospital of Michigan.
He is board certified by the American Board of Pediatrics and practicies medicine in both the United States and Afghanistan.
He also practices pediatric medicine in Kabul at a community health center and at the hospital – the only two training programs for Afghan doctors in the country.