Boston officers out of surgery; police identify slain suspect
Boston Police Commissioner William B. Evans said the two officers wounded in a shootout in East Boston Wednesday night are out of surgery, but remain in extremely critical condition.
Evan said the two officers, one a 12-year veteran and the other a 25-year veteran, were operated on overnight at Massachusetts General Hospital. He said on Thursday that one officer was shot in the leg and the other was shot in the upper body.
“Our prayers are with the two wounded officers and nine other officers treated for stress after the shootout with a suspect at a home on Gladstone Street in East Boston,’’ said Evans who visited the other officers along with Mayor Martin J. Walsh at the Tufts Medical Center Thursday.
The commissioner identified the suspect as Kirk Figueroa, 33. Evans said police are now trying to learn what prompted Figueroa to put on a bullet proof vest and open fire with an assault rifle and handgun on police as they responded to investigate a fight between roommates.
“He opened fire on the officers and the officers returned fire,” said Evans. “I appreciate the courage and bravery of those officers who exchanged gunfire with this suspect.’’
The other officers provided first aid to their wounded colleagues, dragging them out of the line of fire, Evans said. He said one of the officers put his finger one of the officers wounds while another officer put a tourniquet on the wounded officer’s leg.
“The officers neutralized the suspect during the exchange of gunfire,” Evans said.
Police have the house blocked off Thursday and will conduct a search as part of the investigation into the use of deadly force that will be lead by Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley’s office.
Earlier Thursday morning, Evans said the suspect opened fire on the officers who arrived at the Gladstone address araound 10:51 p.m. Wednesday to investigate a report of a man with a gun and a fight between roommates.
Once inside, Evans said, “We heard officers screaming on the radio 303,” which is code for shots fired. “The officers were screaming ‘officer down,’ “prompting more officers to rush inside, Evans said.
He said a suspect - now identified as Figueroa - armed with an assault rifle and a ballistic vest fired at police, striking the two officers, and their fellow officers moved them to safety and returned fire, killing the heavily armed man.
Governor Charlie Baker’s office released a statement on Thursday. “Governor Baker and Lieutenant Governor Polito are shocked and saddened to learn of last night’s horrific incident and their thoughts and prayers are with the police officers and their families,’’ Lizzy Guyton, the governor’s communications director said in the statement.
Walsh noted that the shootings occurred hours after police had honored another officer who was killed in the line of duty in the 1970s.
“This job’s a tough job,” Walsh said of police work. “And oftentimes people don’t look at the other side of what happens with police officers.”
He said officials were praying for the injured officers’ health, and he also expressed support for the East Boston residents who were unnerved by the violence.
“It was shocking for the neighborhood,” Walsh said.
Conley said his office will investigate the police use of lethal force according to standard protocol.
“I ask the city and the region to please pray for them,” Conley said of the wounded officers.
“Domestic calls ... are probably the most volatile,” Evans said. “You never really know what you’re walking into.”
He said officers are “not proud when we have to use deadly force but obviously we had two officers gravely injured there and we had no choice. ... Let’s just hope they pull through.”
The shootings sent the Orient Heights neighborhood into lockdown for a period late Wednesday.
Boston Police issued a shelter-in-place order for the area around Gladstone Street, but lifted it shortly after midnight, police reported on Twitter.
“Scene is secure. Residents kindly asked to remain inside,” police wrote.
Evans commended officers for their actions. “They moved in and neutralized the threat pretty quick that no one else got killed,” he told reporters at the scene in East Boston.
Multiple streets were blocked off near the crime scene early Thursday, as scores of Boston and State Police, SWAT units, and Transit and Winthrop Police scoured the area.
Bystanders were shocked by the shootings.
Marcus Ramirez of Lynn watched the police operation unfold from the corner of Bennington and Walley streets.
He said he heard reports of a shooting on social media while he was at his job at FedEx on McClellan Highway.
“I just saw cops driving fast by Suffolk Downs,” he said.
Lou Ristano, who lives in East Boston, said he could not get back to his home on Waldemar Avenue because police had blocked off surrounding roads.
“Obviously, something happened,” said Ristano. “I tried to drive home. Everything is blocked.”
Karen DeFelippo, who lives parallel to Gladstone Street, said she’s seen police walking up and down her street. She plans on keeping her family indoors for the rest of the night.
“Everybody is fine,” DeFelippo, 64, said. “We’re just staying inside because that’s what we were told to do.”
Joseph Armando of Revere said he was having dinner with friends at Great Chef Chinese Food in East Boston when he heard that officers were injured in a shooting.
“We came over here to see if everything is OK,” Armando said. “We were just really concerned about our community.”
The violence on Wednesday night in East Boston came two weeks after two undercover state troopers were fired at while they were conducting a gun-trafficking probe in Roslindale.
Neither trooper was hit in that case and two men have been charged in connection with the attack.