Metro

Yarmouth police officer fatally shot in Barnstable while serving warrant

HYANNIS -- 032318 -- Police officers comfort each other outside Cape Cod Hospital before the procession to honor the slain Yarmouth police officer, Thursday, April 12, 2018. Christine Hochkeppel for the Boston Globe
Christine Hochkeppel for the Boston Globe
Police officers comforted each other outside Cape Cod Hospital before the procession to honor slain Yarmouth police officer Sean Gannon.

BARNSTABLE — A Yarmouth police officer was shot to death Thursday afternoon while serving a warrant at a home here in the village of Marstons Mills, authorities said.

A law enforcement official, who asked to remain anonymous due to the sensitivity of the investigation, said that the officer was shot in the head while he was going into the attic to pursue a suspect.

Yarmouth police identified the slain officer as Sean Gannon, a 32-year-old K-9 officer who had been on the force for eight years.

Officer Sean Gannon.
Yarmouth Police
Officer Sean Gannon.

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“Sean was a wonderful, wonderful young man,” Yarmouth Police Chief Frank Frederickson told reporters.

“We’re going to miss him terribly,” he said.

Gannon was pronounced dead at Cape Cod Hospital. His dog was seriously wounded in the shooting; the condition of the dog was not known.

The Yarmouth officer was accompanied by Barnstable police and a state trooper while serving a warrant for a probation violation, the official said.

In a joint statement, Cape and Islands District Attorney Michael O’Keefe and Yarmouth Police Chief Frank Frederickson said the shooting occurred around 2:30 p.m. at 109 Blueberry Lane.

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Thomas Latanowich, 29, whose last known address was in Somerville, was taken into custody in connection with the fatal shooting, according to the statement.

He is expected to be charged with murder, and will be arraigned in Barnstable District Court on Friday, authorities said.

He has a long criminal record, according to one law enforcement official.

In October 2016, Latanowich was arrested and charged with allegedly strangling a pregnant woman and vandalizing her vehicle, according to The Cape Cod Times. In December of that year, he was arrested again, this time in connection with a stabbing on Cape Cod, that paper reported. At that time, The Cape Cod Times reported that Latanowich had more than 100 prior criminal charges in Massachusetts.

The killing, in a quiet community of quaint homes, stunned Barnstable town officials and neighbors.

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“I’m devastated, absolutely devastated that this could happen,” Paula Schnepp, a Barnstable town councilor, said in a phone interview.

Governor Charlie Baker offered condolences Thursday night.

“I am heartbroken to learn of the passing of Officer Gannon and my thoughts and prayers are with his family, loved ones and the Yarmouth Police Department after this tragic loss,” he said in a statement.

The American flag was at half staff outside the Yarmouth Police Department Thursday night.

Gannon is believed to be the first police officer in the state killed in the line of duty since Auburn police officer Ronald Tarentino Jr. was fatally shot during a traffic stop in May 2016. In March of that year, State Trooper Thomas L. Clardy was killed when a car swerved and smashed into his cruiser in the breakdown lane of the Massachusetts Turnpike.

As the drama unfolded Thursday, residents in the Blueberry Lane neighborhood watched from their windows as law enforcement surrounded the home where the officer had been shot.

Massachusetts State Police
Officer Sean Gannon.

Agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and local officers monitored the scene in armored gear. A black armored tactical vehicle was used to gain entry to the home.

O’Keefe told reporters that authorities took Latanowich into custody within an hour of the shooting on Thursday.

At Cape Cod Hospital Thursday night, State Police stood at the entrance. Around the back of the hospital, a cadre of police cars lined the street with their blue lights flashing. At least 40 officers were on the scene.

As Gannon’s body was taken away from the hospital, all the officers in attendance were called to attention and saluted their fallen comrade. Then, just as quickly as they gathered, the officers ran to their cars and formed a procession behind the vehicle carrying Gannon’s body.

Yarmouth Police Department via AP
Thomas Latanowich.

Robert Horne, of Bourne, stood at the head of the assembled guard with his young daughter. Each was holding an American flag as the officer’s body passed by.

“I felt that it was important that I bring my daughter out here so she could see how important his life was,” he said. “To me and so many other people.”

Philip Wallace, a Barnstable town councilor, said Marstons Mills, the village where the shooting occurred, is a community typified by quaint homes, ponds, and close neighbors who are raising families.

“It’s shocking, particularly where it happened,” he said.

James Tinsley, a town councilor who has lived in Barnstable for 24 years, was stunned by what he called the “cold-blooded” shooting in the mid-Cape town.

“It’s surprising . . . it just shows it can happen anywhere,” said Tinsley.

Armando Bianco, a 75-year-old retiree who owns a home on Blueberry Lane, said that he hasn’t noticed any suspicious activity in the neighborhood for the past 15 years.

“The neighborhood has been very, very quiet,” he said Thursday afternoon over the phone. “The neighbors are very clean.”

Police officers on the scene in the area of Lakeside Drive in Marstons Mills on Thursday.
Christine Hochkeppel for the Boston Globe
Police officers on the scene in the area of Lakeside Drive in Marstons Mills on Thursday.

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Mike Bello of the Globe staff and Globe correspondent Alejandro Serrano contributed to this report. Danny McDonald can be reached at daniel.mcdonald@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @Danny__McDonald.

Correction: A previous version of this story mischaracterized Robert Horne’s relationship to Sean Gannon.