By Stan Friedman
KABUL, AFGHANISTAN (April 24, 2014) — Covenanter Dr. Jerry Umanos was one of three Americans shot and killed by a member of the Afghan security forces at a children’s hospital in Kabul this morning.
Umanos and the other two victims, a father and son visiting the hospital, were walking out of the facility when the security guard open fired on them, an Interior Ministry official told reporters. The motive for the shooting was unknown.
Umanos, a pediatrician, grew up attending the Evangelical Covenant Church of Detroit (now Faith Covenant Church in Farmington Hills). “All he wanted to do was help people,” said Dave Westerfield, art director for the Covenant Companion and one of Umanos’s closest friends since childhood.
The families were yearly attenders at the Covenant’s Portage Lake Bible Camp in Onekama, Michigan, where they also volunteered.
Dave Nesburg, executive director of Portage Lake, wrote on his Facebook site this morning that his “dear friend” was “A truly great man of God.”
Umanos worked at the Lawndale Christian Center in Chicago six months of the year and at the hospital in Afghanistan for the rest of the year.
An article in the Chicago Tribune quoted a colleague as saying that Umanos, 57, had been shot at recently while jogging. The tribune quoted his colleague Dr. Art Jones, who told the paper, “He was obviously concerned. At the same time, you can’t count the number of children that Jerry’s impacted, the lives he’s saved on his own, and with the doctors he trained. That’s who he was. He was driven by the kids.”
Covenanter Jerry Jacoby said, “His life as a pediatric surgeon was something he dearly loved. He told me he was always so eager to go back.”
Jacoby added, “Jerry was a real gentleman. He had a servant’s heart and was a light-hearted guy who made everybody feel they were his best friends. He had an amazing smile and a wild and free laugh.”
CURE International, which specializes in children’s and maternal medicine, operates the hospital and treats 37,000 patients each year at the site. A spokesman released a statement saying, “CURE International remains committed to serve the people of Afghanistan. Please join us in praying for the families of the victims.”
It is unknown why the shooter fired on the Americans. He subsequently shot himself and is being treated at the CURE hospital.
Umanos is survived by his wife, Jan Schuitema, and three grown children.