Just four days before the shootout at Mercy Hospital and Medical Center, Barrett had filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission saying she was repeatedly harassed by the gunman, Juan Lopez, while the two worked together at the Chicago Housing Authority, according to her attorneys and a filing in the case.
Now Barrett is suing the CHA, accusing it of “willful negligence” in hiring Lopez even though he had been dismissed from the Chicago Fire Department Academy years earlier after being accused of verbally and physically abusing women.
“His termination from the fire academy … foretold his public employment conduct at the CHA,” states the lawsuit, filed in Cook County Circuit Court late Thursday. That conduct included “swearing at [Barrett] in front of employees and the public, bullying her physically, touching her shoulders and pushing on her body, using his legs to reach out and touch the plaintiff.”
Lopez then falsely accused her of sexual harassment and she was terminated, according to the lawsuit. “The conduct of the CHA in regards to wrongfully terminating the plaintiff was intentional and wanton, in that it never conducted any inquiry into the veracity of Juan Lopez’s character or his capacity for honesty.”
The shooter: 32-year-old Chicago Housing Authority Employee Juan Lopez [photo], the gunman in Mercy Hospital shooting fired about 40 shots before dying in shootout with SWAT. He gunned down his ex-fiancée and killed two other people, including a police officer, on Nov 19
In response to a Freedom of Information request last week, the internal affairs records detail the potential treat to the public posed by Lopez was released by the city.
The Chicago Housing Authority [CHA], said in a statement that it has not been served with the lawsuit “and we therefore can’t comment.”
The allegations are similar to ones made against Lopez by other women in the last four years, including his ex-wife who got a protection order in late 2014.
The ex-wife told a judge that Lopez threatened a neighbor with a gun and pointed a gun at a real estate agent and threatened to shoot her if she did not leave his building, according to transcripts of a hearing for an emergency order of protection.
Related: Four dead, including rookie police officer and a pharmacist, after spurned groom, Juan Lopez, ‘shot his ER doctor ex-fiance six times in Chicago hospital parking lot and then continued shooting inside’ – All victims identified
Earlier that year, at least one female recruit at the fire academy accused Lopez of purposely bumping or hitting her.
The Chicago Fire Department’s internal affairs division documented that Juan Lopez “had some sort of incident” with four of the 11 female trainees in his class.
Lopez was fired in May 2014 as the investigation was still going after he stopped showing up for classes. Around this time, he threatened to shoot up the academy, according to officials.
“If I get fired, I’m going to shoot this f ——— place up,” Lopez said, according to a firefighter who heard him.
Department officials said his supervisors were aware of his remarks, but nothing was placed in his file and no charges were filed.
Lopez seemed to have been set off by ER doctor Tamara O’Neal, [photo], cancelling their scheduled Sept wedding. He shot her in the hospital parking lot on her way to work
It is unclear that the city’s internal affairs records were available to the CHA or reviewed by the agency before Lopez was hired.
Barrett’s attorney, Martin Stack, plans to subpoena all of Lopez’ work records, including at the fire academy, to determine what the CHA knew when they hired Lopez.
“I am sure CHA had to know,” he Stack said.
Contradicting a statement by CHA, the day after the shooting, claiming there was “no history of complaints” about Lopez while he worked at the agency, Barrett said she had been complaining about Lopez since at least July, this year.
While her relationship with Lopez was initially cordial, it soon turned sour and abusive, she contends in the lawsuit. “Without provocation, he turned volatile and leveled agitation toward plaintiff,” the lawsuit states.
“Lopez physically imposed himself on plaintiff with invasions of her personal space.”
Barrett had reported Lopez’s behavior to at least three supervisors: “Every day I wondered, ‘What does he have up his sleeve,’ ” Barrett said. “My spirit just didn’t feel right around Juan Lopez. … I went to my boss in tears,” she said.
Chicago police officer Samuel Jimenez, [photo L-R], was also killed in the shooting. The 28-year-old had just completed his probationary period with Chicago PD
24-year-old pharmacy resident Dayna Less, [photo], was getting off an elevator when she was fatally shot by Lopez in his rampage
Lopez accused Barrett of sexual harassment, and “on his word alone, the CHA terminated her employment,” the lawsuit claims.
Barrett also contends in the lawsuit that she was a target of sexual harassment even before she worked with Lopez. She said she was propositioned for sexual favors by a supervisor shortly after she was hired in 2015. The supervisor also exposed himself, showed up at Barrett’s home and sent inappropriate texts to her, according to the lawsuit. Barrett reported these complaints, but the supervisor resigned before the investigation was completed, the suit says.
Barrett said she was targeted by another supervisor with bad performance reviews. She complained to the personnel director, who reassigned Barrett to work alongside Lopez. The move came only after her father, well-known South Side pastor T.L. Barrett, agreed to endorse the director for a promotion, according to the lawsuit.
Barrett then found herself working with Lopez this past summer and, by September, was dismissed after the CHA took the word of an “unstable employee,” the lawsuit states.
Lopez shot Tamara O’Neal an ER doctor, in the hospital parking lot, shot a pursuing cop before rushing inside and opening fire at another victim before he was killed himself by SWAT
Lopez had also shot at a second responding police officer, but the bullet struck his holster and embedded into the gun [photo], leaving the officer uninjured
Three months later, police say Lopez walked onto the parking lot of Mercy Hospital on Nov. 19 and confronted his former fiancée, Dr. Tamara O’Neal, who worked in the emergency room.
He wanted his engagement ring back and they began to argue, according to police. O’Neal called 911 and Lopez pulled out a gun and shot her three times. She fell and he stood over her and fired three more shots. He then shot Chicago police Officer Samuel Jimenez as he arrived on the scene and pharmacist Dayna Less as she exited an elevator before another officer shot him in the stomach and he shot himself in the head. All four died.
O’Neal’s family said she had called off the engagement just weeks earlier.
Barret’s lawsuit says she was not just the victim of Lopez’s abusive behavior, but also the victim of the CHA’s failure to adequately screen employees. – “[The CHA], recklessly and with willful and wanton abandon failed to properly supervise the hiring and thereafter the behavior of Juan Lopez,” it states.