Police shoot and kill man armed with shotgun in Webster
WEBSTER — After Neil J. Seifert was accused last month of punching and kicking his girlfriend and pouring a bottle of vodka on her, a judge ordered him to stay away from the woman while he faced prosecution for domestic abuse, court records show.
Seifert’s girlfriend objected and went to Dudley District Court Feb. 26 to request the stay-away order be dropped, writing, “I don’t want to see him get arrested because of this.”
Judge Timothy Bibaud refused to drop the order, but authorities said that did not stop Seifert, 40, from returning to his girlfriend’s home Thursday night when he allegedly assaulted her, fled in her car, and then returned around 12:40 a.m. Friday armed with a double-barreled shotgun.
It was there that Seifert engaged in one last confrontation, firing at two Webster police officers outside his girlfriend’s home at 40 North Main St., said Worcester District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr. The projectiles from the two rounds Seifert fired passed over the officers’ heads and shoulders, prompting one officer to return fire and fatally strike him, Early said.
“They answered lethal force with lethal force,” Early said Friday by phone. “They did a very good job. They were in the line of fire and we could have had a very different outcome.”
Seifert was pronounced dead at Harrington Hospital in Webster, Early said. The officers were not injured and placed on administrative leave per department policy, Early said. Their names were not released.
One round fired by Seifert struck a building, sending debris onto one of the officers, Early said.
The events leading to the shooting began around 9:50 p.m. Thursday when Webster police received a 911 call from a woman at the North Main Street house who said Seifert attacked her and took her car, Early said.
A “be on the lookout” alert was issued for Seifert, who headed to Charlton, where he broke into a case containing a shotgun at his home, Early said. After a struggle with his stepfather, Seifert left shortly after midnight and Charlton police were notified.
Police then spotted Seifert on Interstate 395 at Exit 3 in Webster and pursued him to North Main Street, where the deadly encounter took place, Early said.
“We were trying to apprehend him at all costs,” he said.
Early said Seifert had been in an “on again, off again” relationship for the last nine years with the woman he was accused of attacking. Reached by phone Friday afternoon, the woman declined to comment.
Court records show that another woman, who has two children with Seifert, was granted restraining orders against him in 2010 and 2012. The most recent restraining order expired Sept. 6, 2012, court records show.
In affidavits filed as part of applications for the restraining orders, the woman wrote that she feared Seifert. In one affidavit filed Nov. 6, 2010, the woman wrote that Seifert had threatened to kill her over a period of three days.
Early said Seifert had a criminal record that was several pages long. On Nov. 30, 2010, he pleaded guilty to assault and battery on a police officer, resisting arrest and was placed on probation for a year, court records show. In the same case, Seifert was charged with a second offense of operating under the influence of liquor, but a judge acquitted him after a trial, records show.
A relative said the domestic abuse charges filed against Seifert last month pushed him to the edge after years of struggling with alcohol and drugs, including heroin.
“I think he was afraid he was going to go to jail,” said the relative, who asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the situation.
The relative said Seifert visited the homes of loved ones Thursday night, kissing his sons, ages 10 and 12, goodbye, and telling people “he was done, signing out.”
“He wasn’t going back there to shoot [his girlfriend]. He was probably going to shoot himself,” the relative said.
The relative said Seifert probably fired at officers as “a way out.”
The shooting alarmed many in the neighborhood, who reported hearing gunfire and officers yelling, “Get down!”
Gail Greenleaf, who lives on the street, jumped out of bed when she heard gunfire. She looked out the window and saw officers running up the driveway of that home, she said.
“I really couldn’t believe it,” she said. “I was like, ‘Oh my God, is this really happening?’”
State Police detectives assigned to Early’s office are investigating.
“The police officers were put into a difficult situation,” Early said. “They met a very tough situation in the best way they could.”