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Boston officer fires at suspect in Dorchester

A Roxbury man with a long history of gun offenses was shot at by Boston police early Tuesday after he fired at a moving vehicle in Dorchester and refused to drop his weapon, authorities said.

“The defendant refused to comply, the officer discharged his department-issued firearm in the direction of the defendant, [and] no one was hit,” Michael Callahan, assistant Suffolk district attorney, said Tuesday during Michael Coke’s arraignment in Dorchester District Court on five charges, including assault with a dangerous weapon.

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It was the fourth time since July 31 that police agencies have fired at armed suspects. The most recent involved a wild, broad daylight shoot-out Aug. 7 on Shepton Street in Dorchester, in which Boston police officers shot and killed a gunman. Two officers were shot in the leg during that exchange.

“It’s hard to tell if assaults on police are just a spike or a trend, but definitely we’re very concerned about it,” said Boston Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis. He said that while police have confiscated more guns this year than usual, homicides are down and shootings have “leveled out.”

Early on Tuesday, Coke, a 38-year-old self-employed mechanic, allegedly shot at a moving car at 12:48 a.m. but did not hit the occupant or occupants.

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Officers nearby got out of their cruiser, announced they were Boston police officers, and pursued Coke, who was carrying a gun in his hand, as he ran toward the intersection of Kingsdale and Wales streets. The officers again identified themselves and ordered Coke to drop the weapon, but he refused, police said. An officer then fired in Coke’s direction, but did not hit him.

Police apprehended Coke and recovered a loaded 9mm handgun on top of a nearby building. It was not clear how the weapon got there.

Many residents were either in bed or heading to bed when the shots rang out. “I thought it was firecrackers at first,” said Jacqueline Harvey, 53, who has lived on Wales Street for 25 years. “There’s stuff that happens around here, but lately it’s been quiet. I’d like for it to return to quiet.”

Coke’s lawyer, Nancy Hurley, pleaded not guilty on her client’s behalf Tuesday and told Judge Rosalind Miller that Coke was in a crowd of people standing near the intersection when shots rang out and that her client fled from the gunfire, along with others. When police pulled up, she said, her client complied with their request to raise his hands, at which point “an officer fired his weapon.”

Miller ordered Coke held on $200,000 bail.

Hurley said Coke grew up in Boston, completed the 11th grade, and has five children, ages 8 to 19.

A man who communicated with Coke as he was being led out of the courtroom identified himself as the defendant’s brother, but declined to give his name. In the hallway outside the courtroom, he disputed the prosecution’s statements.

“They shot at him; he was unarmed, and they shot at him,” the man said. “How did the gun get on the roof if they were chasing him and ordered him to the ground? They didn’t say how the gun got to the roof.”

Coke was charged as an armed career criminal based on his prior convictions.

In 1997, he was sentenced to a year in jail for a firearms conviction. He has also been convicted in federal court stemming from an illegal possession of firearms charge in 1996. Coke received a two-year sentence in 2008 for a firearms conviction.

Brian Ballou can be reached at Follow him on Twitter at @globeballou.
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