More than 200 offer prayers for two officers hurt in gun battle
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A service for the two Boston police officers seriously wounded last week in a gun battle with an armed suspect in East Boston drew more than 200 people to a neighborhood parish Monday evening.
Worshipers prayed for officers Richard Cintolo and Matthew Morris, along with all law enforcement personnel, during a Mass at St. Joseph-St. Lazarus Catholic Church on Ashley Street.
The Rev. Miroslaw Kowalczyk, the parish pastor, praised police for "protecting the weak, giving of yourself to service, and comforting the afflicted."
"We commend you as peacemakers, as ambassadors of justice," Kowalczyk said. "We ask God to bless all of you who wear the uniform in service to your city and to your community."
The Mass included readings from scripture, prayers, and singing. Police Commissioner William B. Evans and Mayor Martin J. Walsh were among the attendees.
After the service, Cintolo's cousin Jennifer Viola, 28, said the family is grateful for the public's support. "It's a great feeling to know that our community can just come together at times like this," she said.
Cintolo and Morris have "a long road to recovery" but are going to pull through, she said.
Cintolo is a "great man who loves the Boston community," she said.
"If you ever get pulled over, you want to get pulled over by him," she said. "He has a big heart. He's a great family man."
Before the service, Evans told reporters that Cintolo and Morris were "out of the critical stage" and in stable condition Monday night at Massachusetts General Hospital.
They were shot by 33-year-old Kirk Figueroa Wednesday when they went to his home to investigate a domestic disturbance he was having with a roommate, police said.
Figueroa was armed with a tactical rifle and a handgun and was wearing body armor, authorities said. He was fatally shot during the exchange of gunfire.
Officials have credited several officers with dragging Morris and Cintolo to safety amid the fusillade of bullets and taking life-saving measures to attend to their wounds.
Evans said Morris and Cintolo are "both in good spirits" and that Morris underwent additional surgery Monday.
He said investigators searched Figueroa's home and seized "some additional weapons" but declined to elaborate because the probe is active.
"I'm just thankful, honestly, that these two officers are making such remarkable progress," Evans said.
The officers who saved Cintolo and Morris are "still really shaken up by the whole event" and will receive stress counseling, Evans said. Some "are still watery-eyed thinking of what happened."
Walsh expressed relief that Morris and Cintolo are recovering and thanked the public for their outpouring of support.
"Certainly [the officers] are moved by the thoughts and prayers," Walsh said.