A Springfield police officer was shot twice early Sunday morning as he and another officer were caught in the middle of a dramatic gun battle in a Dunkin’ parking lot, according to Springfield police.
He is expected to survive, and the suspect, a Springfield man known to police, was arrested, officials said at a press conference Sunday.
Gunfire broke out just before 2 a.m. as the officers went to break up a fight outside the Aquarius nightclub that had spilled into a parking lot across the street, Springfield Acting Police Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood said at the press conference.
The officer who was injured, Edwin Irizarry, took a .22 caliber bullet to the elbow and was grazed on the arm by another.
Irizarry was hospitalized at Baystate Medical Center, Clapprood said, according to a video of the press conference taken by television station WWLP. He was released Sunday afternoon, according to Officer Ryan Walsh, a police spokesman, in a tweet Sunday night.
The second officer was not injured and has been placed on paid administrative leave, Clapprood said.
The gun used in the shooting was recovered and 25-year-old Kenneth Hernandez, was arrested on charges including assault to murder with a firearm, according to police.
He is expected to be arraigned Tuesday in Springfield District Court, Walsh said in an e-mail.
“This was a very traumatic experience not only for the officers that were involved but anyone who wears the badge and blue and their family members who want their officer to come home safe and sound,” Springfield Mayor Domenic J. Sarno said at the press conference.
The officers had been working a detail at the nightclub when club management reported a fight in progress across the street, Clapprood said.
Officers saw a man with a bloody head wound who had been hit with a bottle.
As they approached, officers saw Hernandez go to a car and return with his hands behind his back. As they repeatedly ordered him to “show your hands,” Hernandez allegedly drew the gun and began shooting at them, she said. Gunfire also broke out from behind while the officers returned shots and sought cover.
Police did not say where the other shots were coming from.
Another person caught up in the fight, who has been cooperating with the police, was treated at Baystate for two bullet grazes and released, according to Clapprood.
Hernandez ran behind the Dunkin’ and was arrested on Colonial Avenue after police set up a perimeter, she said. The gun was found in a trash bin behind the shop.
Police are searching for a car in connection with the incident, which remains under investigation, Clapprood said. Police did not give any further information about the car.
Irizarry has been a Springfield police officer since 2007, according to Walsh.
Sarno said Hernandez was well-known to Springfield police with prior arrests on weapons charges.
“It just boggles my mind what serious charges this individual has perpetrated just in the recent past,” he said, calling it a “clarion call on bail reform legislation to keep these people off the streets.”
The club, which has had trouble in the past under different management, he said, will face a hearing with the city licensing board.