Family, neighbors mourn for slain Weymouth officer Michael Chesna
Family, neighbors, and fellow officers mourned slain Weymouth police Officer Michael Chesna as a beloved father and husband who was devoted to his community.
Chesna, 42, a six-year veteran of the Weymouth Police Department, was shot with his own gun Sunday morning after pursuing a suspect, authorities said. The suspect, Emanuel Lopes, 20, attacked Chesna with a large stone, knocking him down before taking his gun and shooting the officer in the head and chest, the Norfolk district attorney’s office said at a press conference.
Chesna, a military veteran and father of two, died minutes away from his childhood home, bringing an outpouring of grief in the area where he grew up, said his father-in-law, Francis Doran, 78, in a phone interview.
Chesna met his wife, Cynthia, while working part time at a bar in Quincy about 15 years ago, Doran said. Chesna had been working there to help pay his way through a criminal justice degree at Northeastern University, he said.
The two married before Chesna served two overseas tours with the Army, first in Iraq, then in Afghanistan, Doran said.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen to my daughter,” who grew up in nearby Braintree, Doran said. “She was totally in love with him.”
He said he also worries for his granddaughter, 9, and grandson, 4, who have been left without a father. Doran said Chesna will also be mourned by lifelong friends he made in the Army and friends from Weymouth with whom he played pickup basketball on Wednesdays.
Chesna’s parents still live in South Weymouth, as does Chesna’s brother. Two of his wife’s sisters work at South Shore Hospital in South Weymouth, though neither was working when Chesna was brought there, said Doran. One of them is married to a Weymouth police captain.
“All close, every one of them,” Doran said.
He described Chesna as a beloved father of two, and a quiet man who was universally well-liked. “All I can say is good things about him,” said Doran, who lives in Marshfield.
Police officers paid tribute to Chesna Sunday afternoon, as his body was moved from South Shore Hospital to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner’s headquarters in the South End. Weymouth officers wiped tears from their eyes as they shook each other’s hands, offering each other condolences after the procession.
Officers and other emergency personnel stood in a line and saluted as the procession of squad cars and motorcycles made its way down Albany Street.
Chesna died one day shy of his sixth anniversary with the Weymouth police, Chief Richard C. Grimes, who hired Chesna, said at a Sunday news conference.
Chesna’s mother told Grimes on Sunday morning that her son enlisted in the Army to “help open the doors” to get a job with Weymouth police, the chief said.
“He was one of those people who truly sought this job, was fortunate enough to get it, and very much appreciated it,” Grimes said. “And we very much appreciated his service to the Weymouth Police Department.”
A Weymouth resident, Joe Sgambato Sr., 69, said he was struggling to make sense of Chesna’s death. Sgambato’s son was a friend of Chesna’s and a fellow Weymouth police officer and military veteran.
The two graduated from the police academy in the same class, joining the Weymouth force together in 2012. Sgambato’s son also sometimes worked the overnight shift.
“Mike was everything you want someone to be,” said Sgambato, who said he last saw Chesna at his granddaughter’s second birthday party. Chesna and Sgambato’s son often attended the birthday parties of each other’s kids, he said.
“I can’t stop thinking it could have been my son worked that shift,” Sgambato said.
Chesna’s next-door neighbor in nearby Hanover said Chesna’s death had come as a shock.
“We all mind our own business but we care for each other” in the neighborhood, said George Miller, 83. Chesna had moved with his family to the neighborhood about three years ago.
“I always see on the news [people saying] ‘How could it happen to us?’ ” Miller said. “And now I’m saying it.”