LYNN — The rumors began early Friday morning.
Friends and neighbors said the 33-year-old Lynn man shot and killed by police was Dorothy McClain’s son, Randolph, but she did not believe them. Then news reports named him, and photos of his body lying near the intersection of Nichols and Western avenues were posted on social media and widely shared.
Still, McClain needed to hear it from police.
“I called the Lynn Police Department, and said I was calling, ‘in regards to my son Randolph McClain,’ and I want to know if the Lynn police killed him,” said McClain, 56, of Salem.
After 45 minutes, a lieutenant called her back and offered his condolences: Randolph McClain, her son and a father of three, was dead. He had been shot after he allegedly brandished a firearm before at least three officers and hijacked a stranger’s car in an attempt to evade arrest, the lieu-tenant said.
“Unfortunately, word of mouth was quicker than the police station is,” McClain said Sunday, an hour before she met with family members to discuss funeral preparations.
At that meeting, she huddled with Randolph’s siblings and the mother of his three children near the Goodrich Funeral Home on Washington Street, where he will be remembered Friday in a service.
On Sunday afternoon, over the telephone and in person, the emotional group flatly rejected the version of events offered by the Lynn police and district attorney’s office as to why, and how, Randolph McClain died.
“I don’t know why they shot him,” McClain said. “Everyone has their own viewpoint, but if you were not here then you don’t know the true story. Don’t fabricate.”
On Thursday, McClain said, a state trooper came to her house looking for her son. The trooper said Randolph McClain had outstanding arrest warrants and should turn himself in, she said. Authorities said McClain allegedly threatened his ex-girlfriend and her family with a gun.
McClain said she was unable to reach her son.
Dorothy Bogard, Randolph McClain’s sister, also said she does not believe the police’s narrative of the shooting. The family contends that McClain was not armed during the police chase and that he was only holding a cellphone.
“They’re portraying him to be a monster. He had the biggest heart,” Bogard said. “He loved his children and he loved his family.”
McClain had three children, ages 6, 3, and 1, with a woman named Tina Brown, according to his surviving family members.
McClain said the family gathered the children together over the weekend to tell them that their father had died. After learning the news, one child said, “I know dad is an angel now,” according to McClain.
On Friday, law enforcement officials said that McClain threatened to kill four officers near a home at 106 Bay View Ave., as they attempted to arrest him on a warrant for violating a restraining order and making threats to his former girlfriend.
After the alleged threat to officers, police said McClain crawled out a second-floor window, pointed a gun at an officer from a porch, then jumped to the ground and led police on a foot chase through several backyards, Essex County District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett said at a press conference Friday.
As he fled on the street, McClain allegedly ordered a woman out of her black Lexus at gunpoint, and jumped into the driver’s seat.
“As officers approached the vehicle, he pointed his gun at them,” Blodgett said. “At that point, three officers fired their weapons at him.”
Carrie Kimball Monahan, a spokeswoman for Blodgett, on Sunday repeated that police had recovered the firearm at the scene Friday.
McClain was allegedly holding the gun in the car and throughout the chase.
Kimball Monahan also said that department procedure is to notify a victim’s family before the name is publicly released, but the department cannot control the information spread in the media or online.
Although she said she empathizes with the relatives’ grief, their assertion that McClain was unarmed is incorrect, Kimball Monahan said. On Friday, a witness interviewed by the Globe said she heard someone yell, “Put the gun down! Put the gun down!”
In 2004, McClain pleaded guilty to armed assault with the intent to murder, and three counts of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. He served more than seven years in the Essex Correctional Facility in Middleton, according to court records and family statements.
Brown, the mother of McClain’s children, flooded her social media accounts with pictures of McClain, including a family portrait of the parents and their three children. “Happier days,” read the caption.