Wounded police officers praised at East Boston vigil
The police captain who heads the East Boston district station fought tears Thursday night when he praised the heroism of the officers wounded in Wednesday’s shooting, and their colleagues who saved their lives amid a chaotic gun battle.
“They did everything they could,” said Boston police Captain Kelley McCormick, who oversees district A-7. “For the neighborhood, for their fellow officers, for themselves. They kept themselves alive, they kept their fellow officers alive.”
McCormick repeatedly paused to compose himself as he spoke to reporters under a steady rain outside the district station on Paris Street, following a prayer vigil for Officers Richard Cintolo and Matthew Morris.
Cintolo, his classmate at the police academy, and Morris were both “resting comfortably” on Thursday night at Mass. General Hospital, where they had earlier undergone life-saving surgery and blood transfusions, he said.
Officials said they remained in critical condition Thursday.
Morris is “one of my go-to guys for everything, same as Richie. ... We hope and pray this recovery goes through and they come back to us,”McCormick said.
The captain praised not only the fellow officers who dragged Cintolo and Morris to safety and applied pressure to their wounds, but also the state troopers, paramedics, and hospital staff who helped them.
McCormick said that while Wednesday’s shooting, allegedly by 33-year-old Kirk Figueroa, who was killed in the exchange of gunfire, was an “extreme” example of the dangers police face, his officers never tolerate violence of any sort in the close-knit Orient Heights neighborhood.
“Our officers are from this community,” he said. “When you shoot at our officers, you’re shooting at our community. ... We don’t stand for violence ever in this community.”
McCormick spoke after more than 100 public officials, clergy, and neighborhood residents gathered for a prayer vigil outside the station.
Mayor Martin J. Walsh and Police Commissioner William B. Evans urged the gathering to pray for the officers and maintain the unity they said has come to mark the multi-ethnic neighborhood.
Walsh said he noticed on Wednesday night that the East Boston district has a racially diverse group of officers, who were steadfast in helping their co-workers and neighborhood during the violence.
“All that mattered is that they looked out for each other,” Walsh said to applause. “Just like their community in East Boston. Just like you being here tonight.”
Evans thanked residents for their “overwhelming” support in the aftermath of the shootings.
“Both Matt and Richie obviously were seriously wounded,” Evans said. “But last night we asked for everybody’s prayers, and we got so much of an outpouring of support.”
A second vigil is planned for Friday night on Gladstone near the shooting scene.
Earlier Thursday, residents who had crossed paths with the wounded officers praised them and said they were devastated by the news.
“Fabulous guy,” said Jennie Cherry, 64, a bartender at Eddie C’s located near the station, of Cintolo.
She said she got to know him when he worked details outside her house during the filming of the movie “Mystic River.”
“Always with a smile, always very nice,” she said. “One of the best guys I met.”
Cherry said Cintolo regularly asked about her family when she saw him in passing.
“That type of gentleman,” she said, adding that the bar planned to put up a donation jar for both officers’ families.
As she spoke, Cintolo’s smiling face appeared on a television screen behind her.
“Anytime you saw him, that’s what he was doing,” Cherry said, motioning to the screen. “Smiling.”