Two more people with Chicago ties are confirmed dead in Kabul hospital attack
BY BECKY SCHLIKERMAN Staff Reporter April 25, 2014 6:26PM
John Gabel (from left), his mother, his father, Gary Gabel, and Kabul University Vice Chancellor for Administrative Affairs Mohammad Hadi Hedayati are shown in his Kabul office earlier this month. | Facebook photo provided by Mohammad Hadi Hedayati
Updated: May 27, 2014 6:16AM
Two men with Chicago-area ties — a father and son — were among those killed by an Afghan government security guard who opened fire on a group of Americans at a hospital in Kabul.
John Gabel, a guest lecturer at Kabul University, was killed in the shooting at CURE International Hospital, said Mohammad Hadi Hedayati, the university’s vice chancellor for administrative affairs.
John Gabel’s father, Gary Gabel, was also killed, according to officials with The Orchard Evangelical Free Church in Arlington Heights, where he was a member. Public records show the elder Gabel lived in Palatine.
Also killed was Dr. Jerry Umanos, who once worked at Lawndale Christian Health Center on Chicago’s West Side.
Hedayati said John Gabel’s wife was injured in the attack. Officials had said an American nurse had been wounded.
Relatives of the Gabels declined to comment Friday.
One said: “Right now we are grieving the loss of our loved ones. We don’t want to be disturbed.”
Hedayati said the younger Gabel had worked for the university for two years.
“Yesterday when I heard the shocking news, I couldn’t stop my tears,” he said in a phone interview.
Hedayati, who called the younger Gabel “Mr. John” and considered him a close friend, said he taught in the information technology department at the university. He also helped manage the Kabul University Health Clinic, Hedayati said.
“All the students, academic and non-academic staff loved and respected him very much. He had a unique personality and was an expert in his field,” Hedayati said by email. “Mr. John Gabel had always expressed his interest and eagerness to help the Computer Science Faculty/Kabul University and to contribute in the rehabilitation process of Afghanistan. His contribution and efforts to improve the academic community of Afghanistan will never be forgotten and will always be remembered by every one of us.”
John Gabel and his parents met with Hedayati during their visit and had lunch together in a restaurant in Kabul, he said.
“His father gave me a small packet of chocolate from Chicago,” Hedayati said by phone. He told the elder Gabel, “I will eat this chocolate with my children.”
And when the group met, the elder Gabels asked a lot of questions about their son.
“I told them you should be proud of your son,” Hedayati said.
The family were guests of Umanos, who worked at Cure International Hospital in western Kabul, according to a Cure International spokesman.
The attacker served in the Afghan Public Protection Force and was assigned to guard the hospital, officials said. His motive wasn’t clear.
The U.S. State Department issued a statement: “We condemn in the strongest terms this abhorrent attack, which targeted humanitarian workers who were helping improve the lives of Afghans through the provision of medical assistance.”
Contributing: Maureen O’Donnell, AP