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Afghan authorities on Friday hunted for a motive in the shooting at a Kabul hospital which left three Americans dead, as the charity running the facility said the tragedy had bolstered its resolve to help the country's people.
Dr. Jerry Umanos and two others died when an Afghan police officer assigned to protect the CURE International Hospital opened fire before turning the gun on himself.
CURE President and Chief Executive Dale Brantner told NBC News on Friday that the attack a day earlier on the hospital, which specializes in maternal and child health, will not impact on his organization’s determination to help Afghanistan.
"We're not going to stop serving the children of Afghanistan because of one rogue police officer"
“If anything, its strengthened our resolve,” Brantner said. “The children of Afghanistan did not do this.”
Brantner described Umanos as “a guy that loved to laugh,” who loved the Afghan people and who was motivated by his strong Christian faith.
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There are “thousands” of children alive today because of the dedicated pediatrician's work, Brantner said, who might one day grow up to be teachers or even doctors themselves.
“That's going to be Jerry's legacy and it’s for that reason that we're not going to stop serving the children of Afghanistan because of one rogue police officer,” Brantner said.
While the other two Americans killed have not been named, Brantner described them as friends of Umanos who were visiting the hospital.
Umanos - a Chicago-area pediatrician who also had worked in Afghanistan for more than seven years - was greeting his visitors just inside the gate of the hospital when the shooting began.
Ali Shah, a taxi driver, recalled having a mundane conversation about the weather with the police officer shortly before the attack.
“I asked him, 'Are you feeling cold?' He said, 'No, it is very hot today',” Shah told NBC News. “After five minutes, he went inside the hospital. After he went inside, he started firing.”
Interior Ministry spokesman Seddiq Seddiqi said the gunman remained hospitalized and expressed confidence that once his condition improves police will be able to determine a motive.
The attack is the latest in a string of deadly incidents targeting foreigners.
Seddiqi dismissed suggestions that the attack highlighted weaknesses in Afghan security forces, stressing rigorous security checks for police recruits.
"It’s not about the security environment it’s about one individual one person’s act," he told NBC News. "We try our best to provide security for internationals who are in Afghanistan... And we still have the capability to provide them with security personnel and security arrangements."
Whatever the motive, Umanos’ wife said her family harbors no “ill will” toward Afghanistan or the gunman.
"Our family and friends have suffered a great loss, and our hearts are aching," said Jan Schuitema, who was married to Umanos for 34 years. "While our hearts are aching for our loss, we're also aching for the loss of the other families as well as the loss, and the multiple losses, that the Afghan people have experienced."
She spoke tearfully of her husband’s desire to help those in need, describing how when "he saw the need, he went."
“That need continues,” Schuitema added.
Michele Neubert of NBC News contributed to this report.