Firefighter accused of attempted carjacking arrested before

John Lopez III on desk duty as Jacksonville Fire Rescue conducts investigation

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – A lieutenant with the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department accused of attempted carjacking Sunday was arrested in 2007 after a similar incident, News4Jax has learned.

John Lopez III, 37, was taken into custody Sunday after police said two employees of Prohibition Kitchen, a gastropub at 119 St. George St., detained him.

The bouncers said Lopez approached the driver's side door of a car and ordered Ellen Norris, 24, out of the vehicle several times, saying that he was "the authority." Then he pulled her out of the car and slammed her to the ground, according to the police report.

Lopez was tackled by the bouncers.

In a statement released Monday, JFRD spokesman Tom Francis said Lopez has been with JFRD since May 2005 and had previously been assigned to the A shift with Rescue 31.

Francis said Lopez has been reassigned to a 40-hour week and is “no longer associated with field activity and correspondingly removed from any job related contact with the general public.”

JFRD has begun an internal investigation into the allegations, Francis said.

Lopez was taken to the St. Johns County Jail, where he was booked. He has since posted bail.

A 2007 arrest report for Lopez said he was drunk and disorderly and yelling obscenities at people and the responding officers, claiming he was one of them. He was initially charged with impersonating an officer and disorderly conduct, but those charges were dropped because the State Attorney's Office declined to pursue the charges.

According to the arrest report, the Sept. 16, 2007, incident was reported at a place called Parks, and several witnesses told police Lopez was was not only harassing other people there but busted into the women’s bathroom and began yelling profanities and racist remarks at the cleaning woman. 

When police finally escorted him out of Parks, Lopez began screaming at people and then told the officer he was a “Marine and we shouldn’t be treating him like this,” the report said.

The officer told Lopez that being in the military doesn’t warrant his behavior. To which he responded, “Oh you just think you’re a bad *expletive* and that’s why my hands are tied behind my back," the report said.

Officers said that once he was in the back of the cruiser, Lopez began using racial slurs and screaming. He also started name-dropping specific officers, stating he knew them personally and that he worked with JSO at station 41 in Mayport, according to the report. He was with the Jacksonville Fire Rescue Department at the time.

According to documents from the State Attorney's Office, when an officer told Lopez that the things he was saying weren't true, he responded "whatever."

The document, dated Sept. 27, 2007, said the facts of the case showed that Lopez was "extremely intoxicated and saying thing that weren't true," and that he "was not asserting any authority over anyone or acting as if he was a police officer."

According to the State Attorney's Office, Lopez voluntarily got alcohol counseling. The state declined to pursue the charges.