Dr. Bello stood out among the shelter residents because of his neat dress, which consisted of slacks, button-down shirts and stylish glasses. âMental health doesnât discriminate: you could be a doctor, a lawyer, a judge,â said Richard Orta, 50, a resident who said he had overheard a detective interviewing the staff.
The Bellevue center was not the first shelter-like housing Dr. Bello had relied on. In 2014, the same year he was hired by Bronx-Lebanon, he lived at the Bowery Mission Menâs Center on Avenue D, on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. The 77-bed center, which is considered transitional housing, is designed specifically for formerly homeless men who are struggling with drug addiction.
In between the stints at the shelters, Dr. Bello lived for a year in a private apartment on East Second Street in the East Village, where neighbors said he made an impression by being unusually helpful and courteous. A resident in the building, who gave only her first name, Sonia, said that last year, Dr. Bello lived across the hall from her on the third floor in a small apartment with dÃ©cor she described as minimalist.
âI was pregnant at the time,â she said, âand heâd carry boxes up and down without me even asking. He just offered. You see the stories after one of these shootings where neighbors say, âHe was the nicest guy,â but he really was.â
But Dr. Bello presented a different face at Bronx-Lebanon. On Friday, hospital officials said he left in 2015, in lieu of being terminated. The police said he resigned after an accusation of workplace sexual harassment.
Dr. Bello sent an email to The New York Daily News two hours before he opened fire inside the hospital, citing the âbogus complaintsâ made against him by the hospital. In the email, Dr. Bello said the hospital had terminated his progress toward a full physicianâs license. âFirst I was told it was because I always kept to myself,â he wrote. âThen it was because of an altercation with a nurse.â
In the same email, he relayed that the hospital had cited an instance in which he had âthreatened a colleague,â a fellow doctor. Dr. Bello wrote that he later emailed the colleague, âcongratulating her for my termination after she sent out an email to everybody telling them to file complaints against me.â
The bitterness expressed in the email, however, provided no hint of what was to come. After the shooting, some doctors talked about possible warning signs â that Dr. Bello was short-tempered and, at times, menacing. A physician at the hospital, Dr. David Lazala, who also works in the family medicine department, told The Associated Press that he had trained Dr. Bello. Dr. Lazala described him as âvery aggressive, talking loudly, threatening people,â and added that Dr. Bello had sent him a threatening email after leaving Bronx-Lebanon. Reached by phone on Saturday, Dr. Lazala declined to elaborate.
Surely, a career high point for Dr. Bello was his graduation in 2010 from the Ross University School of Medicine in Dominica, an island in the Caribbean â despite its reputation as a fallback for students who cannot earn admission to medical schools in the United States. But there were troubling signs for Dr. Bello before that.
Born Henry Williams Obotetukudo, Dr. Bello lived in California off and on from 1991 until 2006. It was unclear if he was born in the United States, but he obtained a Social Security card in his late teens. Records showed that, in 2000, he filed for bankruptcy in Santa Barbara, Calif., when he would have been in his late 20s. He obtained his license as a pharmacy technician in California in 2006, and it expired in 2009.
A serious brush with the law occurred in New York City in 2004, when he was arrested and charged with sex abuse and unlawful imprisonment. A 23-year-old woman told the police that he grabbed her on Bleecker Street in Manhattan, and tried to penetrate her through her underwear. Court records revealed that Dr. Bello pleaded guilty to unlawful imprisonment in the second degree, a misdemeanor, and was sentenced to community service.
The felony sexual abuse charge was dropped, which may explain why the episode was not unearthed during a criminal-background check conducted by Bronx-Lebanon. âThere was no record of any conviction for sexual abuse,â said Errol C. Schneer, a hospital spokesman.
Dr. Bello was also arrested in New York in 2009, but that arrest record is sealed.
In recent weeks, despite receiving the Section 8 housing voucher during the spring, Dr. Bello was seen by several residents of the Lower East Side near the Bowery Mission on Avenue D. It was unclear what he was doing back in the vicinity of the program that three years earlier had offered assistance with housing and drug treatment.
âHe looked preoccupied,â said Monsey Lapuelta, a neighbor of the Bowery Mission, when shown Dr. Belloâs photograph from news articles about the shooting. âHe was very to himself, very quiet, looking down. I never saw him with other people.â