Chicago hospital shooting victim was planning wedding in June, 'just wanted to help people,' father says

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The pharmaceutical resident who stepped out of an elevator at a hospital on Chicago's South Side and into the middle of a gunman's deadly rampage was known for loving what she did and had been planning a wedding in June, her father said Tuesday.

Dayna Less, 25, had started working at Mercy Hospital in July after graduating from Purdue University in May. She was killed on Monday after 32-year-old Juan Lopez fatally shot his ex-fianceé, Tamara O'Neal --  a doctor at the hospital -- and Chicago Police Officer Samuel Jimenez before opening fire in the hospital.

"I don’t want Dayna remembered as a victim and I want everyone to understand that," Brian Less told reporters.

His daughter, an only child, had entered her career after suffering from a headache disorder when she was 15 and undergoing a series of surgeries that took two years of recovery. She later started a blog with her mother called "My Daughter's Headache" in an attempt to help others with the same condition find hope.

Brian Less said he doesn't want his daughter Dayna remembered "as a victim."

Brian Less said he doesn't want his daughter Dayna remembered "as a victim."

"She helped everyone she could," her emotional father said. "She helped everyone she could in her life."

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Her prior health struggles had motivated her to get into the health industry, and Less had "loved" her job at Mercy Hospital, so much so she confided in her father she would do the job for free because she was so happy with it.

"She just wanted to help people," Less said.

The 25-year-old was just about to sign on to do a second-year residency at the facility.

"She was the best and brightest start on this planet, and she didn't deserve what she got," he said.

Dayna Less was shot and killed as she was coming out of an elevator at Mercy Hospital in Chicago on Monday.

Dayna Less was shot and killed as she was coming out of an elevator at Mercy Hospital in Chicago on Monday. (Facebook)

Less had known her fiancé, Adam Keric, for almost 10 years after the two met at church camp and he later became her high-school sweetheart, according to her father. The two were set to be married on June 1, 2019, back in their home state of Indiana.

"He made her complete, and he's crushed," he said.

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In a statement, the dean of Purdue's College of Pharmacy called the shooting an "unimaginable tragedy."

"We’ve remembered Dayna Less as a kind, compassionate, beautiful soul that had dedicated her life to helping others," Eric Barker said in a statement. "It’s so tragic that a young person with her life in front of her has had her life ended in this senseless manner.  The Purdue Pharmacy family along with the Purdue community grieve together alongside her family and friends in this most difficult time."

Dr. Tamara O’Neal, Chicago Officer Samuel Jimenez, and Pharmacy Resident Dayna Less were killed in the shooting.

Dr. Tamara O’Neal, Chicago Officer Samuel Jimenez, and Pharmacy Resident Dayna Less were killed in the shooting. (Franciscan Health/Chicago Police/Facebook)

Authorities said the gunman, Juan Lopez, had been had been kicked out of the city's fire department academy four years ago after threatening a female cadet, and that a woman had sought a protective order against him in 2014.

Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi told the Associated Press that a woman complained in 2014 that Lopez was incessantly texting her and refused to stop. Guglielmi said the woman sought an order of protection from a judge, but it's unclear whether she was granted such an order. Lopez was not criminally charged.

Lopez had a permit to possess a concealed firearm, but it's unclear if officials knew about the 2014 complaint when the permit was granted. He also had legally purchased four guns in the last five years.

Lopez and the doctor he killed, Tamara O'Neal, had been in a relationship, according to police. She had recently called off their engagement and Lopez confronted her about returning the engagement ring before shooting her multiple times, sparking the rampage at the hospital.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.