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Bronzeville, Near South Side

Order Of Protection Against Mercy Hospital Shooter Was Terminated, Allowing Him To Get A Gun Legally

In the emergency order of protection, Juan Lopez’s ex-wife wrote he slept with a “pistol under his pillow."

Mercy Hospital shooter Juan Lopez.
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BRONZEVILLE — Before Juan Lopez shot and killed an emergency room doctor, a Chicago police officer and a pharmaceutical resident at Mercy Hospital Monday, the gunman’s ex-wife had sought an order of protection against him.

Chicago Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said the temporary order of protection against Lopez was issued by a civil court in December 2014, before being terminated after 14 days.

Two years later, Lopez applied for a conceal carry permit in 2016, Guglielmi said. Lopez had a valid concealed carry license when he shot up the hospital Monday afternoon. 

Because the order was terminated, “it was not in our systems when he applied for a concealed carry permit with the Illinois State Police,” Guglielmi said.

“The Chicago Police reviews those and matches them against any flags in our data system,” Guglielmi said. “That protective order was null and inactive by the courts so the police could not use that against them because it was no longer an active court document.”

In the emergency order of protection, Lopez’s ex-wife wrote he slept with a “pistol under his pillow” and had “pulled out his gun with intent to harm” in two separate instances,” WGN reported.

In the handwritten order of protection request, she said Lopez had become “threatening” following separation proceedings. He had sent “threats via text message to come to my job and cause a scene.”

“I fear that my safety is in jeopardy,” she wrote, according to court documents.

During his time at the Chicago Fire Academy, Lopez threatened to “shoot this f—— place up,” referring to a Chicago Fire training facility nearly five years ago, the Chicago Tribune reported, citing fire department sources.

Larry Langford, a Chicago Fire Department spokesman, said he was unable to confirm nor categorically deny the threat, but said Lopez was under investigation for complaints he’d been “aggressive” toward women.

Lopez stopped showing up to work during the investigation, Langford said, so he was fired. He’d started training as a firefighter EMT since March 2014 and was let go about six months later.

Lopez, 32, fatally shot his ex-fiancée Tamara O’Neal, an emergency room doctor, after following her to work at Mercy Hospital, 2525 S. Michigan Ave., at about 3 p.m. Monday, officials said. He then ran inside the hospital and killed pharmacist Dayna Less and police officer Samuel Jimenez.

After being shot in the abdomen by police, Lopez shot himself in the head, Guglielmi said.

O’Neal’s father told Block Club Tuesday that she had been trying to remain friends with Lopez since the break up, but was being urged by family to keep her distance. Her father was not aware of Lopez’s past violent episodes. 

Before he was booted from the fire department, from 2008 to 2013, Lopez was employed as a security guard at DePaul University, confirmed spokeswoman Carol Hughes. 

At the time of the shooting, Lopez was currently enrolled as a graduate student at DePaul. He earned a bachelor’s degree at the school in 2013.

Despite being booted from the fire academy, Lopez was able to get another city job at the Chicago Housing Authority. 

Lopez was an associate program specialist who worked at CHA headquarters in the Loop, according to the housing authority. He started with the agency in February 2018 and did undergo a background check. 

There were no records of complaints against him during his time at the CHA.  

“This was an unthinkable act of violence,” CHA CEO Eugene Jones Jr. said in a statement. “We are filled with overwhelming sadness and our hearts go out to the families of those who died, and to all affected by this horrific tragedy.”

Lopez was also a graduate student at DePaul University who was pursuing a master’s in public service, according to the DePaulia.

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