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Police chase ends in suspect’s death

Investigators looked for evidence at the intersection of Summer and Thatcher streets in East Bridgewater.

George Rizer for The Boston Globe

Investigators looked for evidence at the intersection of Summer and Thatcher streets in East Bridgewater.

EAST BRIDGEWATER — Police shot and killed an armed robbery suspect who fired on them during a wild pursuit through three Greater Brockton communities Monday, ending in a final confrontation on a normally quiet street, officials said.

Jeffrey P. Watts, 47, of Brockton, robbed a CVS store at 355 Centre St. in Brockton at around noon and fled in a black Dodge pickup, according to law enforcement officials and the company.

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State and Brockton police pursued Watts through Brockton, Whitman, and East Bridgewater, according to David Procopio, a State Police spokesman. Watts was shot at about 12:30 p.m. after firing at police with a shotgun, officials said.

“During the pursuit the suspect fired at officers,” Procopio said in an e-mail. “The pursuit ended on Thatcher Street in East Bridgewater . . . with more shots fired. The suspect was struck by gunfire” and was later pronounced dead at Brockton Hospital, he said.

Brockton police Lieutenant Mark Porcaro said an officer was struck in the chest by some kind of object , but he was unsure what it was. The officer was treated and released at an area hospital as a precaution, Porcaro said.

Witnesses who live near the scene on Thatcher Street described a harrowing episode that was punctuated by several volleys of gunfire. Among the neighbors who heard the barrage was Anne Marie Crook, who lives on nearby Summer Street.

“At first I heard like 30 to 40 firecracker-sounding things,” Crook said near the scene, which was sealed off throughout the day. She said there were pauses between the pops, which led her to conclude that she was hearing gunfire.

Crook said she made sure that her 1-year-old granddaughter was safe inside her home before venturing outside.

“I came back here [outside] and, right away, four police cars came roaring up [Summer Street] and took a sharp right turn onto Thatcher Street,” she said. “All of a sudden there had to be at least 20 more cars” racing to the scene.

“It was very scary,” she said. “Very, very scary.”

Another neighbor, Debbie Hall, said she was inside her home when she heard unusually loud booms. Her house, she said, is near a Brockton police shooting range and she is used to the sound of gunfire.

“I don’t know guns, but this sounded like a bigger, [more] powerful gun than I heard on the range,” she said. “And then I heard the cruisers and people running. I just locked my doors. I got really nervous.”

Cordelia Winters, a Massasoit Community College student, was eating lunch at Wendy’s on Route 18 in Whitman when she heard what sounded like gunfire. “I heard maybe three or maybe five shots, like in the distance. Then a bunch of police cars went by,” she said.

Authorities did not say whether State Police or Brockton officers fired the fatal shot or shots. “Shooting facts and circumstances . . . are all under investigation,” Procopio said.

Employees at the CVS location in Brockton that the man allegedly robbed declined to comment. A spokesman for the pharmacy chain said in an e-mail that no customers or employees were injured.

While the Plymouth district attorney’s office normally investigates shootings involving police in that county, Cape and Islands District Attorney Michael O’Keefe’s staff is handling the review, since one of the troopers who fired at Watts is assigned to the detective unit attached to the Plymouth office, authorities said.

O’Keefe declined to discuss details of the case on Monday night, since police were still gathering evidence.

Globe correspondents Nicholas Jacques, Melissa Hanson, and Jasper Craven contributed to this report. Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.
andersen@globe.com
. John R. Ellement can be reached at john.ellement@globe.com.

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