Hos­pi­tal gun­man ‘dis­liked’ at fire academy

Records show prob­lems with fe­male class­mates, con­cern by in­struc­tor in ’14

Chicago Tribune (Sunday) - - CHICAGOLAND - By Jeremy Gorner [email protected]­bune.com Twit­ter @Jere­myGorner

The gun­man in last week’s mass shoot­ing at Mercy Hos­pi­tal & Med­i­cal Cen­ter was a “dis­liked class­mate” among his fel­low Chicago fire academy trainees and was de­scribed as be­ing “per­verted” in the way he pre­sented him­self, ac­cord­ing to an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the man’s al­leged mis­treat­ment of women as he trained to be a fire­fighter about five years ago.

Records re­leased Fri­day af­ter­noon by City Hall show how the Fire De­part­ment’s in­ter­nal af­fairs di­vi­sion in­ves­ti­gated Juan Lopez on al­le­ga­tions he pur­posely bumped into or hit at least one fe­male class­mate dur­ing his two-month stint at the academy in 2014.

Lopez ended up be­ing fired be­fore the probe was con­cluded be­cause he stopped show­ing up for work.

Au­thor­i­ties say Lopez killed Chicago po­lice Of­fi­cer Sa­muel Jimenez, 28; emer­gency room doc­tor Ta­mara O’Neal, 38; and phar­ma­cist Dayna Less, 24, on Mon­day af­ter­noon at Mercy Hos­pi­tal, fir­ing about 40 shots be­fore dy­ing in a shootout with a SWAT of­fi­cer. Lopez, 32, opened fire at the hos­pi­tal af­ter con­fronting O’Neal, his ex­fi­ancee, to get his en­gage­ment ring back.

The shoot­ing hap­pened about 4 1⁄2 years af­ter the Fire De­part­ment’s in­ter­nal af­fairs di­vi­sion found that four of the 11 fe­male trainees in Lopez’s academy class “had some sort of in­ci­dent” with him, ac­cord­ing to records ob­tained by the Tri­bune through a Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion Act re­quest. Other class­mates of Lopez and at least one of his in­struc­tors also ques­tioned whether he had the right tem­per­a­ment to work for the de­part­ment.

“Af­ter sev­eral in­ter­views with the other Can­di­dates of the class, there seemed to be a gen­eral con­sen­sus that (Can­di­date Fire­fighter/ EMT) Lopez was a dis­liked class­mate,” in­ves­ti­ga­tor Tom Floss wrote in a 19page re­port about al­le­ga­tions of vi­o­lence and ha­rass­ment against Lopez.

Ac­cord­ing to the re­port, one fe­male trainee stated that while she didn’t wit­ness any in­ci­dents in­volv­ing Lopez, she be­lieved “that he was per­verted just by the way (he) pre­sented him­self.”

One wit­ness also de­scribed Lopez to in­ves­ti­ga­tors as “lazy, ar­ro­gant and chau­vin­is­tic.” An­other said Lopez acted ag­gres­sively to­ward the in­struc­tors. One talked about how Lopez’s be­hav­ior made her “in­cred­i­bly un­com­fort­able.”

Within just a few weeks from the time Lopez started at the fire academy on March 17, 2014, one of his fe­male class­mates filed a com­plaint to su­per­vi­sors about “mul­ti­ple in­ci­dents” that oc­curred with Lopez, in­clud­ing that he had de­lib­er­ately run into her dur­ing phys­i­cal train­ing, ac­cord­ing to her al­le­ga­tions.

The wo­man “stated that CFF Lopez has been bump­ing into her on mul­ti­ple oc­ca­sions which has CFF Lopez vi­ciously star­ing at her and with a snide re­sponse of ‘Yeah, ex­cuse me’ that fol­lows ev­ery hit,” the wo­man al­leged in the re­port. She said that “she in­formed CFF Lopez to ‘not play around’ and that she did not like him hit­ting her.”

The wo­man re­called one in­stance in which the en­tire class was run­ning on Roo­sevelt Road and how she was as­signed as a “road guard” posted in front of a pot­hole. Ac­cord­ing to the re­port, the wo­man al­leged that Lopez “looked right at her and stepped to­wards her and knocked her off bal­ance.”

Floss, the in­ves­ti­ga­tor, also in­ter­viewed an­other fe­male trainee who al­leged that in an­other in­ci­dent, when a group of fe­male trainees walked through a drill hall at one of the train­ing fa­cil­i­ties, “Lopez was reach­ing his arms back and at­tempt­ing to in­ap­pro­pri­ately touch ev­ery (fe­male’s) legs with his arms or hands while they walked be­hind him.”

The wit­ness also com­plained that Lopez ap­peared to make in­sen­si­tive com­ments to at least one fe­male trainee in ref­er­ence to an ear­lier law­suit filed by other fe­male can­di­dates.

For ex­am­ple, when a rep­re­sen­ta­tive from the U.S. Equal Em­ploy­ment Op­por­tu­nity Com­mis­sion spoke to the re­cruits on their third day of class, the wit­ness al­leged that Lopez raised his hand and asked, “What do I have to do to sue the City of Chicago and how fast can I get paid?”

Lopez, in a May 8, 2014, in­ter­view with in­ves­ti­ga­tors, de­nied all the al­le­ga­tions made by the trainee who filed the com­plaint. He told in­ves­ti­ga­tors he be­lieves he “has a fine re­la­tion­ship with the other fe­males of the class,” the re­port stated.

He did, how­ever, ac­knowl­edge re­mark­ing about the law­suit with what he said was a “stupid com­ment” aimed at a fe­male class­mate. He said he didn’t think it would of­fend any­one.

Lopez also had threat­ened to shoot up the academy around the time of his fir­ing, of­fi­cials have said. But a Fire De­part­ment spokesman could not pro­vide de­tails on the pur­ported threats, which were not doc­u­mented on pa­per.

AN­TO­NIO PEREZ/CHICAGO TRI­BUNE

A po­lice ve­hi­cle sits at Mercy Hos­pi­tal on Tues­day, a day af­ter Juan Lopez killed three peo­ple there.

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