Friends and colleagues Saturday remembered Gary and John Gabel, the Palatine father and son killed Thursday during a shooting at a Kabul hospital, as generous, caring people of great faith.
"They were concerned about helping others," said Arlington Heights Mayor Thomas W. Hayes, who knew Gary Gabel and his wife, Betty, for 25 years as fellow members of The Orchard Evangelical Free Church in Arlington Heights.
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Hayes also knew John Gabel, who played center on the church basketball team that Hayes coached, and was the same age as Hayes' 32-year-old son.
"It's very sad and tragic. Our prayers are with the family," said Hayes who learned of the deaths first through the "church grapevine" and then through a church email to members.
Gary Gabel and his wife Betty had gone to Kabul to visit John, his wife Teresa and the couple's young daughter, Laila.
Gary and John were killed, and Teresa was wounded Thursday in the attack by an Afghan police security guard inside Cure International Hospital in Kabul, where they had gone to meet pediatrician Dr. Jerry Umanos of Chicago.
Authorities say the security guard fired on the foreigners as they entered the hospital grounds. Umanos was also killed.
Authorities described the shooting as an "insider-attack" in which Afghan security forces fire on their comrades, foreign trainers or civilians.
John Gabel had been a visiting lecturer at Kabul University in the computer science department since 2012, said the school's vice chancellor, Mohammad Hadi Hedayati, via email.
Gabel, who taught a database administration course, also ran a small health clinic for Morning Star Development, a Colorado-based charity that operates medical clinics and community centers and provides economic development assistance in Afghanistan.
"We have lost a great man, a great teacher, a man who was here only to serve the Afghan people," said Hedayati of the man he described as a good friend.
Gary Gabel was a member of the Orchard Evangelical church choir who often sang solos with one of his two daughters, said Hayes. The elder Gabel was also involved with church youth groups and the leadership team.
"He was someone who wanted to give back of his talents, enthusiasm and faith," Hayes said.
Hedayati had lunch with the family the day before the attack.
"I was very honored to meet John's parents," Hedayati said. "Both his mother and father were so proud of their son."
What prompted the police guard to fire on the Americans was not clear. The Interior Ministry released a statement Saturday identifying the attacker as an ordinary police officer from Kabul's District 6 and not a member of the Afghan Public Protection Force, as was initially reported. The APPF is a separate police unit created to protect foreign compounds.
The Afghan police guard shot himself in the stomach after the attack but was saved by the Cure hospital staff and is in custody at a police hospital.
John Gabel's employer, Colorado-based Morning Star Development, has four medical clinics and several training centers across Afghanistan, according to its website.
In 2012, an American doctor working for Morning Star and two of his colleagues were abducted while returning from a clinic in eastern Kabul province.
The American, Dr. Dilip Joseph, was rescued by a U.S. military operation that resulted in the death of a member of the Navy's Seal Team Six, the same unit that killed bin Laden a year earlier in Pakistan. Joseph's two colleagues were later released and were never identified.
Sunday's service at Orchard Evangelical will be a difficult one, Hayes said.
"It's a bad time for the Gabel family, their extended family and for all the friends and acquaintances they had in our church," he said.