LYNN — Denis Reynoso logged eight years of military service and a tour in Iraq, worked as a window clerk at the Salem Post Office, and recently became engaged to the woman who shared a modest townhouse with him.
To his neighbors, the 30-year-old was a quiet, doting father who hardly caused a ripple in the day-to-day life of the neatly manicured King’s Lynne apartment complex.
That tableau was shaken at midday Wednesday when Reynoso was fatally shot by Lynn police, who entered his apartment after being called to the development following reports of a man screaming and acting strangely.
Lynn Police Chief Kevin Coppinger told reporters later Wednesday that Reynoso, who lived with his fiancée, Jessica Spinney, and two children, apparently had grabbed the gun of one of his officers. But neighbors are questioning how a man they described as respectful and friendly could have provoked a deadly response.
“I just don’t believe that he would treat someone in uniform that way,” said Mariessa Lopez, 28, who lives across the street from Reynoso’s apartment.
Lopez said those questions are shared by Reynoso’s fiancée, who visited her Friday morning. “She has a lot of questions that need answers. What happened wasn’t right,” said Lopez, who recalled that she heard three shots fired.
At the hospital Wednesday, Lopez said, Spinney gazed longingly at her new engagement ring. “She kept looking at it. She couldn’t believe this was happening,” Lopez recalled.
On Friday, a small collection of candles, some lit, were clustered outside the door of Reynoso’s two-story apartment.
State Police assigned to the Essex district attorney’s office took control of the investigation after Reynoso, who authorities said was shot once in the midsection, was pronounced dead at 4:14 p.m. Wednesday at North Shore Medical Center-Union Hospital in Lynn.
Carrie Kimball Monahan, spokeswoman for District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett, said she could not predict how long the investigation would take.
Three Lynn police officers have been placed on three days of paid leave, in accordance with department protocol. Two of the officers were inside the apartment at the time of the shooting, Coppinger told reporters. The third was walking toward the residence. All three were treated for minor injuries at Union Hospital and released.
Lopez said she and Reynoso had attended the Career Development Center in Lynn, an alternative school.
“He was just a good guy,” Lopez said. Holding a mobile device outside the shooting scene, she showed a tribute to Reynoso posted on the Internet by a mutual friend.
“Denis was a great person,” the posting read. “He fought for the rights we take advantage of.”
In 2004, Reynoso enlisted in the Massachusetts Army National Guard and served in Iraq from August 2007 to May 2008 as a combat engineer, according to the Defense Department.
During that tour, Reynoso appeared in a video created by the military to let service members send holiday greetings to their families.
“I want to give a special shout-out to all my friends and family back home in Lynn, Massachusetts, and a special shout-out to my girl, Jessica. I’ll see you soon,” Reynoso said in the video.
In November 2010, Reynoso transferred to the Army Reserve and left the military in November 2012. One month later, Reynoso resigned from his job as a window clerk at the Salem Post Office, where he had worked since August 2011.
Reynoso did not speak much of his military past, Lopez said. However, his service was known in the community.
“It was just something you would say to him at Veterans Day. You would kind of salute him,” Lopez said.
“This hurts,” she added, “because when I sit out on my porch, his is the door I look at.”
Brian MacQuarrie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.