A shoot-out in broad daylight left two Boston police officers wounded and a suspected gunman dead, plunging a busy Dorchester street into chaos and sparking an extensive, door-to-door search for a second man who remained at large Wednesday night.
As armored SWAT vehicles rumbled down quiet side streets and teams of gun-toting officers combed backyards, witnesses and officials described a terrifying burst of violence that shattered the calm of a summer day.
Just before 2 p.m. Wednesday, authorities said, two drug-unit officers were working undercover on Dorchester Avenue when they saw two men, who appeared suspicious, involved in a confrontation of some kind. When they approached the scene and identified themselves as officers, one of the men raised a weapon and “began a gun battle with the officers,” Daniel Linskey, police superintendent in chief, told reporters at the scene.
Police killed one of the men, while the second man escaped on foot. The two officers sustained minor bullet wounds to their legs.
During an evening briefing, Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis identified the man killed as Roudy Hendricks, 20, most recently of Brockton.
“This individual has a lengthy and violent record,” Davis said.
Davis identified the wounded officers as Harry Jean and Terry Cotton. Both officers are 24-year veterans, the commissioner said. There were conflicting reports as to which officer was grazed by a bullet in the leg and which one was shot twice in the leg.
One neighbor, Fafane Cruz, said she was on Dorchester Avenue when she heard an officer shout, “Put down your weapon!” An instant later, a series of deep, booming shots rang out, she said.
“Boom, boom, boom,” she said in a low voice. “It was deep, heavy.”
After police arrived, a second witness saw a man fleeing the scene, firing several shots behind him as he sprinted.
“He was running and shooting,” said the witness, who quickly sought safety indoors. Others heard tires squealing amid the gunfire.
At the press briefing on Wednesday night, Davis said that police do not know the name of the suspect who remains at large and that he is presumed to be armed and dangerous. Police described the suspect as a light-skinned black man with a slim build and braided hair. He was wearing a maroon shirt with pinstripes.
Davis also said police were examining ballistics evidence and were searching for evidence on Monsignor Patrick J. Lydon Way. He did not elaborate.
“This is the second time in a week or so that we’ve had officers violently attacked by individuals who have no regard for the officers’ safety,” the commissioner said, referring to an incident in South Boston on July 16.
Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley’s office is reviewing police use of force, according to standard protocol.
He said that report would be released publicly when it is concluded, adding that prosecutors’ “thoughts and prayers” are with the wounded officers and their families.
“As a city, I think we should all be very thankful that these officers, though injured, are expected to survive their injuries,” Conley said at the briefing.
Several of the witnesses said they were so frightened by the brazen shooting that they would only discuss what they saw if they were not identified.
One bystander described the confrontation as a drive-by shooting, reporting that three men in a sport utility vehicle turned onto Shepton Street, a side street off Dorchester Avenue, and let loose a barrage of gunfire.
“I can’t believe this happened in broad daylight,’’ said the witness, who fled the scene and did not see who the men were targeting.
Davis declined to confirm the report.
From the scene, Cruz said she saw one of the officers and the wounded suspect loaded into ambulances.
On nearby Florida Street, a woman named Denise heard the shots and instinctively ducked, too stunned to think of what else to do.
“It was loud and forceful,” she said. “It scared the bejesus out of me.”
Authorities said they were trying to determine what caused the initial confrontation and the exchange of gunfire with police, which brought a massive police presence and left many residents deeply unsettled.
“I’ve been living here for 40 years, and I’ve never seen anything like this,” said a Shepton Street resident named Joannee. “I’m really upset.”
Nearby, a group of officers combed the street with a police dog. One officer carried a semiautomatic weapon, and others urged residents to stay indoors, as police sirens roared and helicopters buzzed overhead.
Many residents said the shoot-out unfolded in the middle of a family-oriented neighborhood.
“We have kids who play here; one of them could have been shot,” said Venus Tolliver, a minister who lives in the neighborhood. “To know that this could happen in our backyard makes me wonder what kind of world we live in.”
But other residents said that the neighborhood had experienced gun violence before and that rival gangs brought a constant fear.
“Gangs are on every street here,” said Patrick Mayo, 52. “And they don’t think nothing of shooting you.”
In her Dorchester garden, sheltered by a canopy of trees, Rae Aguilar stood in rain boots to water her rose bushes. With officers nearby, she felt safe enough to come outside. But just barely.
“I don’t know how this happened,” Aguilar said. “Maybe I should feel scared.”
A small memorial of five candles was set up on the sidewalk where the shooting took place. A small wet spot surrounded the area where attempts were made to wash away blood. Spots of blood still stained the sidewalk Wednesday night.
Classmates of Hendricks, the man killed in the gun fight, came by the scene.
Tarahn Maxwell, 19, said he was a “class clown” in high school.
“He wouldn’t have done this without being provoked,” he said.
“He was just hanging around with the wrong people,” said another classmate, Malika Austin, 20.