Photo of the victims of the Mercy Hospital shooting: Dr. Tamara O'Neal, Officer Samuel Jimenez and Dayna Less

Quantum of Solace

In Front Page by Allen West

Greetings, everyone, from “Wild and Wonderful” West “By God” Virginia. We are here in Wheeling, WV, for Thanksgiving with our oldest daughter, Aubrey.

I just want to say thanks, and “howdy” to those folks who recognized me in Lowe’s, and at the Kroger’s in Saint Clairsville, Ohio, as we purchased a turkey fryer, and bought our Thanksgiving vittles.

Ya know, the biggest drawback to being in Dallas is the incessant traffic in the DFW metroplex. That’s why, after I land in Pittsburgh, I head towards Wheeling, hit I-70 and get on the other side of Washington, PA, a sense of solace overtakes me. Winding down the interstate entering into West Virginia the rolling mountains just sends a wave of solace over me. It is as if a great weight, burden, has been lifted. Wheeling, West Virginia, home of Fox News political analyst Chris Stirewalt, is a little piece of earthly heaven, and yes, it is cold.

The beautiful Ohio River runs through Wheeling, and one can only imagine the day when riverboats ran through Wheeling. Now, some of you may be saying, “hey, Col. West, things are not all that great in Wheeling.” Yes, I know. I see the poverty, and know all about the issue of drug abuse, and the opioid crisis, and how it has wrought human destruction upon this region. I think about when some said they wanted to bankrupt the coal industry, and what that did to the people here in West Virginia, hearty, resilient, tough Americans.

There were other places Aubrey could have gone for Physician Assistant (PA) school. We are glad she chose Wheeling, West Virginia. And, so it is, here we are, the West crew, having a West Virginia Thanksgiving, the first Aubrey has hosted. We are so very proud of her, her accomplishments, her focus, and her determination to care for others. Yes, we have lots for which to give thanks.

Sadly, I want to share a tragic story of a family who, at this time of giving thanks, will be missing a loved one. They are missing their quantum of solace. As reported by Townhall:

“It’s been hours since the tragic and horrific shooting at Mercy Hospital in Chicago. The shooting left three people dead, including a police officer that was responding to the gunfire.

The shooting began around 3:30 P.M. yesterday after the gunman, Juan Lopez, confronted his ex-fiancée and emergency room doctor Tamara O’Neal, according to a local ABC affiliate. O’Neal was shot and killed in the hospital parking lot. Lopez then re-entered the building and killed pharmacy resident Dayna Less as she was walking out of an elevator.

Officer Samuel Jimenez was responding to the call of shots fired when Lopez killed him in the lobby. Lopez was later found dead with a gunshot wound to the head.

Another officer that responded to the shooting was struck as well, but saved by his firearm which stopped the round (via ABC 7 Chicago): 

Officer Samuel Jimenez was one of three people killed by a gunman, who also died, police said. The 28-year-old officer who ran into the line of fire to save others worked in the city’s 2nd Police District and joined the department in 2017. Tuesday, he is being remembered as a husband and father of three young children. […] Jimenez was shot and killed by the gunman inside the lobby of Mercy Hospital. He was responding to shots fired while he and his partner were on their way to a different call.”

I think about the wife and three children who will not have their dad, Chicago PD Officer Samuel Jimenez, a hero who ran to the sound of the gun this Thanksgiving. Once again, we are reminded that there is evil in the world.

A man, rejected by Dr. O’Neal, decides that his only course of action is to harm others and then cowardly kill himself. It is not the instrument used in their demented hate, it is about the darkness, the mental instability that drives someone to take such a violent action against innocent people, such as pharmacy resident Dayna Less.

We all need to find a quantum of solace, a special quiet place where we can escape the hustle, bustle, and noise that surrounds us. Maybe more people should get lost in the mountains of West Virginia amidst God’s splendor and beauty. Maybe we need more people to just get away and take a hike along the Appalachian Trail in order to allow the darkness to be purged.

I have come to truly enjoy my early morning runs here in Wheeling, West Virginia, these hills are challenging. However, the peace that I find is so very comforting. I just pray that the day never comes when a place like this no longer exists, even with the apparent socioeconomic issues. One takes a deep breath here, and it is refreshing. I pray that Officer Jimenez’s family will be able to have God’s peace fill their emptiness. I pray that they know just how thankful we are for Officer Jimenez and that men and women such as he still exist, those of the Thin Blue Line.

No, this will probably not be a Happy Thanksgiving for the Jimenez family, but I would just like for them to know, as with all of our men and women serving upon Freedom’s ramparts, and our Blue Knights, first responders, how thankful we are that they are the Watchmen on the Walls.

I salute these brave men and women, such as Officer Samuel Jimenez, and their families. As I spend this Thanksgiving in Wheeling, West Virginia, I am truly thankful to live in a country that produces such valorous men and women.

[My latest book, Hold Texas, Hold the Nation: Victory or Death is now available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and retailers nationwide!]