WOBURN -- About 100 family, friends and colleagues gathered last night in the parking lot of a department store to honor police officer John “Jack” Maguire, who was killed one year ago by a career criminal out on parole despite being receiving three life sentences.
The 60-year-old Maguire was shot during a raging blizzard on Dec. 26, 2010, during a robbery of the Kohl’s department store. His assailant, Dominic Cinelli, 57, was killed during the exchange.
“I know my brother was probably thinking ‘it’s snowing like crazy, what’s going to happen tonight? I’m going to sit and relax in my cruiser and go home at 1 o’clock, and be safe,’” said Chuck Maguire, the officer’s brother. “And he gets into a shooting match with the baddest of the bad. That’s the tragic thing. This guy was so bad. This guy wasn’t an amateur. This guy was just terrible.”
Cinelli had been on parole since 2009 despite receiving three life sentences for a variety of offenses.
During a short and solemn vigil last night, speakers included Chuck Maguire, retired Woburn Police Chief Philip Mahoney, new Chief Robert J. Ferullo Jr, Mayor Scott D. Galvin, and State Rep. Jim Dwyer About 100 people attended, including dozens of police officers from Woburn and neighboring communities, including Burlington, Reading, Stoneham, and Winchester. There was also a moment of silence.
“To have this many people come tonight, it’s a great tribute to the family and I’m proud to be mayor of this city,” Galvin said.
For the officers who came here last night, this is hallowed ground. Maguire was the first officer killed in the line of duty in Woburn’s history. A small Christmas tree was set up in the back of the parking lot, adorned with blue lights. A memorial sprung up nearby with a banner and several poinsettias.
“We’re a brotherhood. We stick together. We stuck together that night, and we’ve stuck together every night since then,” Ferullo said. “It was in this very spot that the bad guy stared him down with a gun and he engaged so that your family and my family could be safe.”
Officers snapped to attention when Maguire’s family, including his widow, Desiree, approached the memorial. Last night’s vigil was not advertised, and no formal program was created. People found out by word-of-mouth, and they showed up in droves.
“Word got back to Burlington, I’m not sure how, that they were having this tonight so a lot of the guys on and off duty came,” said Burlington police Sergeant Tim Kirchner. “It’s so close to home, it’s part of the same family.”
Maguire’s shooting led to sweeping changes in the state's parole system. Five of the seven Parole Board members resigned, and new legislation passed by the State Senate last month includes a provision to deny parole eligibility to three-time violent felons.
Chuck Maguire, a retired 35-year probation officer, has lobbied the State House to tighten parole rules since his brother’s death.
“I didn’t realize how lenient they had become,” he said in an interview after the vigil. “I just want a nice bill that tells us what’s going to happen [to felons].”
Another Woburn officer, Robert DeNapoli, 51 was shot in a jewelry store robbery Sept. 6. For Ferullo, who has been chief for about three months, dealing with this uncharacteristic spike in crime in Woburn is priority No. 1.
“This is an aberration. It’s not normal. We’re a very close-knit community. People are born in Woburn, live in Woburn, and we’re not going to tolerate it,” he said. “We’re going to work smarter, train smarter, and put a stop to it, period.”Globe correspondent Amanda Cedrone contributed to this report. John M. Guilfoil can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globe_guilfoil.