CHA hired Mercy Hospital gunman despite past harassment complaints, lawsuit says

CHICAGO — A new lawsuit reveals chilling information about the gunman who killed three people at Mercy Hospital and Medical Center on Nov. 19.

The suit claims Juan Lopez was hired by the Chicago Housing Authority after numerous abuse allegations were reported to the city. He previously was dismissed from the Chicago Fire Department Academy after being accused of verbally and physically harassing women.

Former CHA employee Rhonda Barrett said she filed a complaint about Lopez with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission just four days before the fatal hospital shooting at Mercy Hospital. Barrett said she was repeatedly harassed by Lopez when the two worked together at the CHA.

Now, Barrett is suing the CHA.

In the suit, filed in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Barrett alleges Lopez repeatedly asked her on dates. When she said no, Barrett said, Lopez became menacing — harassing her in front of clients and staff.

“Juan would not stop,” Barrett said. “I feel terrible for the women at the fire department because I know firsthand what they went through.”

Lopez killed his former fiancée, a Chicago police officer, and a pharmacy resident before ultimately shooting himself at Mercy Hospital and Medical Center on Nov. 19. He was shot by police in the abdomen before he shot himself in the head.

Barrett said the CHA should’ve known better than to hire Lopez due to his checkered past.

Barrett said she was fired by the CHA after Lopez falsely accused her of sexual harassment.

The situation is especially chilling for Barrett’s family because her youngest sister, Cook County Sheriff's Deputy Kleo Barrett, was killed by an ex-boyfriend in 2007. The Barrett family founded The Kleo Center, which helps fight violence in Chicago. To learn more, visit thekleocenter.org.

The CHA said it was reviewing the lawsuit.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.