By Bob Smietana
A Christian pediatrician from Chicago was one of three Americans killed on Thursday at the CURE hospital in Kabul, Afghanistan.
The shooter was a member of the security detail at the hospital, according to a statement from CURE International, a Christian nonprofit based in Leymoyne, Pennsylvania.
“Three individuals, including a doctor who served at the hospital, were killed, and two others were injured,” CURE said in a statement.
One of those killed was Dr. Jerry Umanos, who had been standing at the gate of the hospital when the shooting occurred, according to the Washington Post.
Umanos, a native of Detroit, had worked for 16 years at the Lawndale Christian Health Center in Chicago before moving to Afghanistan in 2005.
According to Christianity Today, he still had close ties to the clinic in Chicago, and worked there in 2012 while back in the United States.
“Today, the staff and patients of Lawndale Christian Health Center lost a very dear friend, devoted colleague, and gifted doctor,” the clinic said in a statement. “Dr. Jerry Umanos has been a pediatrician at Lawndale Christian Health Center for 25 years and he was, for many of us on staff, the pediatrician for our very own children … This loss is a loss for his family and those he worked with, as well as for the people of Afghanistan. He was a loving, caring physician who served all his patients with respect.”
His mother-in-law told the Chicago Tribune that Umanos felt called by God to go to Afghanistatn.
“He always wanted to be a missionary and he felt this was one way he could do it,” she told the Chicago Tribune.
One of Umanos’ colleagues told the Tribune that he had been worried about his safety. But his first concern was for his young patients, said Dr. Art Jones, a colleague at the Lawndale clinic.
“At the same time, you can’t count the number of children that Jerry’s impacted, the lives he’s saved on his own … He was driven by the kids,” Jones told the Tribune.
In a tearful statement, his wife, Jan Schuitema, reiterated Umanos’ love for those he was serving.
“And I know Jerry would also really like everybody to know about his love for the Afghan people and our love for the Afghan people and that we don’t hold any ill will towards Afghanistan in general, or even the gunman who did this. We don’t know what his history is,” she said.
Unamanos had also been a long-time volunteer at a Bible camp in Michigan.
“All he wanted to do was help people,” Dave Westerfield, a longtime-friend of Umanos since childhood, told Covenant News Service.
After the shooting, the gunman turned the gun on himself.
Staff from the hospital treated him for his injuries. He was then taken into custody by government officials.
The CURE International hospital has been open since 2005 and serves about 37,000 patients each year. Officials there are cooperating with a government investigation, according to the statement.
By Bob Smietana