By Keith Eddings
---- — LAWRENCE — When Antonio Bueno — a 73-year-old city worker with a 17-year record of speeding, running stop signs, accidents and license suspensions — got behind the wheel of another man’s car in a public parking lot he was attending last week, chaos ensued.
It began when Bueno attempted to move a Toyota left in the lot beside City Hall by Methuen resident Rafael Garcia, apparently to make room for another car, according to a police report. Police said Bueno put Garcia’s car in reverse and backed it up.
The first car to get hit was Bueno’s own, a 1994 Toyota, which also was parked in the lot, the report said.
After backing into his own car, Bueno threw Garcia’s car into forward and hit the gas, striking another car with such force that the nose of Garcia’s car wedged under it, shoveling it into a cement wall and then into a third vehicle, which also was flung against the wall.
“I loved that car,” said Rita Brousseau, the city’s Purchasing Agent, who owned the third vehicle, a 2006 Hyundai Tuscon, which was totaled. “It was my first brand new car. Right off the lot. It was fully loaded. I planned on running that thing into the ground.”
There was almost one more casualty in the April 24 incident.
Frank Acosta, a witness who was standing at the edge of it all, told police he “was afraid (vehicle) #1 was going to hit him also,” according to the police report.
A police records officer did not respond to messages seeking to learn if Bueno was ticketed.
Any tickets would be added to Bueno’s 24 convictions, accidents and suspensions since 1996, including six for speeding, six for failing to stop, and four accidents in which he was deemed mostly responsible, according to records provided by the state Registry of Motor Vehicles.
Bueno could not be reached for comment last week.
His boss, acting Public Works Director John Isensee, said he will wait to see if Bueno is ticketed before deciding if he will be disciplined, but said Bueno at least will be written up for entering a private vehicle.
“They have no business being in anyone’s vehicle except their own,” Isensee said about his parking attendants. “We don’t valet park cars.”
Isensee said Bueno’s duties as a maintenance worker and as a relief attendant in city lots do not typically require him to drive.
Two years ago, Bueno was criminally charged in another incident involving a city vehicle.
Bueno was in a passenger in a city truck double-parked on Essex Street when a local minister who was leading the effort to recall Mayor William Lantigua photographed the vehicle because it was parked illegally.
Bueno jumped from the truck and confronted the minister, Edwin Rodriguez, shouting obscenities and bumping into him, Rodriguez told police.
“I know who (you are). You don’t scare me,” Bueno told Rodriguez, according to a police report. “I will put a bullet in your head. If you were in my country, I would have already put a bullet in your head and throw you in a pit,” Rodriquez said Bueno told him. Bueno was born in the Dominican Republic.
Bueno was charged with assault and battery and threats to kill. The charges were dismissed. Rodriguez has taken out nomination papers to run for mayor.