Juan Lopez, the man who gunned down a police officer and two hospital employees (one of whom was his former fiance) before turning the gun on himself, is now known to have had an order of protection filed against him by his ex-wife. The same day, the man entered her home, stole some of her property, and then destroyed everything else. His ex-wife told officers that the man responsible for destruction and theft had a key to the place and that she had a protective order issued for her husband. Detectives never questioned Lopez, however, who would have been the key suspect in any follow-up investigation.
Reports Unearthed Years After Shooting
The Chicago Tribune unearthed the report years after the shooting after an open records request. The details raised renewed concerns about how seriously law enforcement takes restraining orders. In this case, the wife had a restraining order against her husband and the husband appeared to violate that restraining order, in the process, committing a serious crime. However, police never followed up on the lead and Lopez went on to commit an even more serious crime.
Police Say Suspecting Ex-Husband Not “Necessarily a Step in This Case”
An attorney with the Domestic Violence Legal Clinic rightly called out police for failing to question Lopez. Chicago police responded by saying that questioning the ex-husband was “not necessarily a step” in the case unless there was something that tied him directly to burglary. However, the police had much more evidence in this case than they do for most burglaries. They had the knowledge that the burglar likely entered with a key and the fact that the wife had a restraining order against her husband. In a typical burglary case, tying the burglary to any one suspect is difficult unless they leave prints behind or are responsible for multiple burglaries or there is video footage.
Victim in Hospital Attack Broke Off Engagement with Lopez
Lopez had a history of becoming violent with women who had spurned him. The fatal attack that claimed the life of a Chicago police officer, his fiance (who was a doctor at Mercy Hospital) and another hospital employee, appeared to be triggered by yet-another spurning. Lopez became irate when Tamara O’Neal called off their engagement and went back to the hospital where a young police-officer, another hospital employee, and his ex-fiance all lost their lives.
Could This Have Been Prevented?
Arguably, it is possible that had the police acted on the likelihood that Lopez violated the restraining order, ransacked his former wife’s apartment, and then stole property valued at several thousand dollars, that he would have found himself in prison. As a defense attorney, you see people convicted on circumstantial evidence all the time and there was certainly enough circumstantial evidence to warrant at least questioning Lopez concerning the break-in.
Talk to a Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney
Have you been charged with a crime in the Chicago area? Chicago defense attorney, David Freidberg, can help protect you from flimsy evidence, bad prosecutions, and preserve your rights under the Constitution. Call today at (312) 560-7100 and we can discuss your options.
(image courtesy of Quentin Kemmel)