MALDEN -- Dozens of police officers and several SWAT teams searched a section of Malden late Friday night for one suspect after earlier arresting two others sand shooting and killing a fourth man who police said fled after holding up a bank in Saugus.
State Police spokesman David Procopio said the alleged robbers sped into Malden in a red car after the robbery, and that one suspect was killed in a hail of gunfire during a shootout with local police. One suspect was believed to still be at large as of 10 p.m., said Marc Gatcomb, a Malden police spokesman. He offered no further details.
At approximately 4:48 pm, Saugus police responded to calls for an armed bank robbery in progress at the Saugusbank on Lynn Fells Parkway, the Middlesex district attorney’s office said in a statement. The men then fled.
Police “located the suspects in a nearby parking lot at 500 Broadway in Malden where gunfire was exchanged and one suspect was struck,” the district attorney’s office said. The suspect, William Eekasala, 35, of East Boston, later died at Massachusetts General Hospital, according to the statement.
Two other suspects, Michael Ginnietti, 38, Winthrop, and Gabriel Megna, 48, were arrested Friday night and face charges including armed robbery, carjacking, and assault with a dangerous weapon, the office of District Attorney Gerard T. Leone Jr. said. Leone’s office did not say where Megna lives.
Malden Mayor Gary Christenson said police sent out two reverse 911 messages after the incident urging residents to lock their doors and stay inside.
George Laskey, manager of the New England Motor Court at 551 Broadway in Malden, said he saw a red car traveling from Saugus speed down the wrong side of the road before he heard gunshots Friday evening.
“I was inside, and it sounded like the Wild West out here,” Laskey said.
He said he heard between 15 and 20 rounds fired.
A 27-year-old woman, who was out with her young son, said she was waiting at a traffic light in front of the Cliffside Commons Apartments complex at 500 Broadway shortly before 6 p.m. when she heard one gunshot, then several more in quick succession. Fearing for her safety, she declined to give her name.
A 12-year-old girl who said she lived near the apartment complex was walking with her mother to a nearby store when she saw police arrive in the area. She said two men began to shoot and chaos ensued.
“I saw a guy try to get into someone’s car and he made all of them get out. There were four of them in the car. He had a gun in his hands. He said, ‘Get out of the car,’ or else he was going to shoot them,” the girl said. “He tried to drive away but there were four cruisers behind him.”
The girl said that police pursued and fired at the car, shattering its rear windshield, and the vehicle then veered off the road into a fence.
Specific details on the police shooting and times from the wild scene were not available Friday night.
A 22-year-old woman, who said she lived a couple of blocks from the scene and was walking in the same area, said she saw three men in a red car pull into a parking lot in front of the Cliffside apartments, with police cruisers in pursuit.
“I saw three guys, one of them had a black hood on, [one of them] hopped the fence,” said the woman, who also declined to give her name.
One man was running across the street, she said, when she heard a loud crack.
“The first gun[shot] we were kind of confused, then we heard it go like, boom-boom-boom-boom-boom,” she said.
As the search continued into the night, a helicopter circled overhead shining a spotlight and many people watched as armed officers patrolled the area with police dogs.
The district attorney’s office, Saugus and Malden police, and the FBI’s bank robbery task force are investigating.
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