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3 Boston police officers shot after hourslong standoff in Dorchester; suspect killed

Police tape blocked off Ferndale Street after three Boston Police officers were shot and a suspect was killed.John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

Three Boston police officers were shot and a suspect was killed by police as a lengthy standoff at a house in Dorchester ended in gunfire Tuesday afternoon after the suspect unexpectedly opened fire at officers, the second time in three days Boston officers used deadly force after being attacked.

The officers’ injuries were not life threatening. The suspect was pronounced dead at the scene of the standoff at 29 Ferndale St., Police Superintendent in Chief Gregory Long said at an evening news conference.

On Saturday night, an officer was stabbed in the neck while responding to a domestic disturbance call, and the suspect was subsequently killed by police.

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Suffolk District Attorney Rachael Rollins said the attacks are examples of the dangers police face when responding to calls involving people suffering from mental illness.

“In the last three days we’ve had multiple police officers harmed and attacked,” Rollins said. “Emotionally disturbed people are everywhere. . . . Just remember it is a very hard job to be a police officer. "

Long added that the attacks “highlight the dangers” of police work and praised the “courage and bravery” of the officers attacked on Tuesday and Saturday.

Boston police investigators stood on the front porch at 29 Ferndale Street on Wednesday.John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

The lengthy standoff began about 9:30 a.m. when police responded to a call reporting a person with a gun and learned the suspect was threatening others inside an apartment there, Long said. When officers tried to engage with him, Long said, the suspect barricaded himself inside.

The SWAT team and negotiators were then brought to the scene and the standoff continued for five to six hours, Long said, before the suspect abruptly opened fire, striking three officers.

The suspect was shot multiple times, Long said, and was later pronounced dead at the scene.

The injured officers were taken to local hospitals with non-life-threatening injuries. Multiple other officers were taken to hospitals for evaluation, Long said.

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One officer was released from the hospital Tuesday night, while the other two were expected to remain there overnight, said Sergeant Detective John Boyle, a police spokesman.

A law enforcement official briefed on the case said the wounded officers were at Boston Medical Center and were alert and conscious. The official said two officers were wounded in the leg and a third officer received a graze wound.

The three officers were part of the SWAT team that was inside the building, the official said.

At the news conference, a heckler tried to repeatedly interrupt Rollins, and she used his behavior to underline the difficulties police officers and other responders face on the job.

“Imagine what the police are dealing with right now, from emotionally disturbed people everywhere, going to help them, and then getting stabbed, or shot, or harmed,” she said.

Rollins, who will lead the probe into the confrontation, pledged to “conduct a very deep investigation.”

Rollins, Long, and Acting Mayor Kim Janey spent time at the hospital earlier Tuesday with the wounded officers.

“Their wives showed up crying. Their family members are terrified,” Rollins said. “Nobody signs up for work in order put their lives at risk, and they do that every single day.”

Janey, writing on Twitter, thanked Boston police “for their service and professionalism today.”

“My sympathies are with those who were shot and injured, along with their families,” Janey said. “The City of Boston will support the District Attorney’s full investigation of this case.”

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The heavy police presence and the gunshots that ended the standoff disrupted the neighborhood on an unusually sunny, warm November afternoon.

Neighbors, some with young children in tow, stopped to observe the police before heading home. Children peered from the windows of a passing school bus on Norfolk Street.

Steve Hawkesworth, who has lived two streets from the crime scene for half a century, denounced the violence that he said has become too common in the neighborhood.

“This violence has been coming up, and up, and up, and I’m really fed up with it. I’m really tired of it,” said Hawkesworth. “It wasn’t like this when I moved into this neighborhood. . . . Everyone was nice, welcoming. Even had neighbors that would bring me over food.”

He said there have been previous shootings nearby and residents are working together to stop the violence.

“This is not this community. This was never this community,” he said. “It’s a breakdown.”

Steven Turner, 53, who lives on Withington Street, a few blocks east of the crime scene, said he thinks police should use less lethal weapons.

“I think they should knock them out with rubber bullets instead of gunfire . . . but when you get SWAT involved, they’re coming with the real guns,” Turner said. “I’m not against cops. I’ve got family members that are cops. They’ve got a right to protect themselves.”

Turner had come down the street to check in on some friends who lived closer to the scene of the shooting, he said.

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“I just wanted to make sure my friends were safe and see if they needed a place to stay,” he said.

Investigators worked the crime scene late into the night. Multiple police vehicles sat parked behind red crime scene tape, with bright white lights illuminating the neighborhood.

At Boston Medical Center, more than two dozen police officers stood near the ambulance entrance on Albany Street. Multiple police cruisers idled outside with their blue lights flashing.

By around 8 p.m. most of the officers had left the medical center, but a group of four stood outside the emergency room. The Suffolk County sheriff’s cruiser was parked outside on Albany Street, along with several Boston police cruisers and motorcycles.

In a Twitter message, the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association, the union for the city’s patrol officers, thanked the nurses at BMC and Tufts Medical Center “who treated our injured officers and their distressed families with dignity, care and compassion earlier tonight.”

Mayor-elect Michelle Wu said she had been briefed on the violence and “will be monitoring the situation closely.”

“My prayers tonight are with the injured officers, their loved ones, and those in our community who have repeatedly had to face violence and trauma in our neighborhoods in the past week,” Wu said in a statement.

In the incident Saturday, one officer was stabbed in the neck in the stairwell of a house on Ingelside Street in Dorchester. A second officer shot the suspect, who was taken to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead. The wounded officer was released from the hospital on Sunday.

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The fatal confrontations between police and suspects come as violent crime is on a decline in Boston. There were 22 fatal shootings in the city this year, as of Sunday, compared to 42 over the same period in 2020, according to data released by Boston police. There were 154 nonfatal shootings in the city as of Sunday; last year there had been 201 by Nov. 7.

The city had 36 homicides as of Sunday, compared to 52 at this time in 2020, and is trending below the five-year average of 49 homicides, according to police data. In other parts of the country, street violence increased dramatically earlier this year as pandemic restrictions were lifted.

Before Saturday’s fatal confrontation, the last time a Boston police officer shot a suspect was in July, during a traffic stop in Roslindale, as the two struggled over a gun in the suspect’s vehicle, Boyle said recently.

That suspect survived and was arrested and charged with nine crimes, including possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony, possession of class B drugs with intent to distribute, resisting arrest, and three counts of assault and battery on a police officer, police said at the time.

Travis Andersen, Mike Bello, and Danny McDonald of the Globe staff contributed.