A man died after a call for a domestic dispute at a bed-and-breakfast in Jamaica Plain Saturday night escalated when police officers arrived and he immediately began shooting at them, police said.
During a tense standoff, at least one officer fired toward a second-floor room where the gun-wielding man had broken through a window while other officers were helping to evacuate guests, officials said. Police then rushed into the house and found the man’s body.
Authorities did not release the man’s name, but said he lived and worked at the 14-room bed-and-breakfast at 21-23 Wyman St.
No one else was injured.
“I spoke to the folks that were in 21 Wyman St., they were terrified,” Boston Police Commissioner William G. Gross told reporters at the scene about 3 a.m. Sunday, according to a recording released by police. “You have your children there, you have some senior citizens there. It’s terrifying.”
David Cohen of Brooklyn, N.Y., who was staying at the bed-and-breakfast with his family, said police officers were “amazing” as they evacuated his two children, ages 8 and 11.
“They were just sort of intuitive and kind,” he said.
Gross did not say whether the officer who fired struck the man, saying that was under investigation. And authorities did not release details about the domestic call that brought police to the house.
After waiting for a warrant most of Sunday, Sergeant Detective John Boyle, a police spokesman, said, police searched the man’s room and found two handguns, a short-barrel semi-automatic rifle, and “hundreds of rounds of ammunition” for the rifle and handguns.
Suffolk District Attorney Rachael Rollins, whose office is investigating the man’s death, called the incident “a complicated sequence of events.”
She said the man “lived at the dwelling and assisted with the day-to-day operations of the property.”
She did not release details about the case, but commended police actions.
“I want to commend the Boston Police Department and their coordinated multi-unit and jurisdictional response during this dangerous and tense incident,” Rollins said in a statement. “As I have too frequently said, any loss of life is a tragedy and this too is the case here.”
When officers arrived about 10 p.m. Saturday, they saw the man standing outside the blue-and-white house off Centre Street, across from the John F. Kennedy Elementary School, Gross said.
He started to enter the building and officers followed, but he suddenly fired a handgun at them, Gross said.
Officers retreated and blocked off the street, as guests trapped inside the bed-and-breakfast were texting 911, said Boyle.
Sarah Palmer, who lives next door, said she heard officers calling out to the man — telling him to come to the door, that they were not going to hurt him, that he had not injured any of them when he fired. Throughout the ordeal, she said, she saw officers evacuating people from the house, she said.
“We kept thinking that’s everyone,” she said, but more people kept coming out in small groups.
She said she kept waiting to see the man police were trying to talk to emerge, but he never did.
Officers evacuated some — but not all — of the approximately 20 people staying at the bed-and-breakfast before they saw the man appear in a second-floor window with a firearm, Gross said. The man used his gun to smash through the window and officers were alarmed, thinking he might start shooting again, the commissioner said.
“Being in fear of not only the lives of residents in that building and in the neighborhood [but] in fear of their own lives, an officer discharged his department-issued firearm in the direction of that male suspect,” Gross said.
Gross declined to say how many shots were fired, saying that will be part of Rollins’s investigation. The officer who fired was not wearing a body camera, Gross said. He was not immediately sure whether other officers on scene had body-worn cameras.
After the officer fired, Gross said, police entered the house to evacuate the rest of the guests who were hiding in their rooms, and they found the body of the man with a “fatal gunshot wound,” Gross said.
“This was a tense standoff,” Gross said.
Sunday’s shooting was the third time in 2019 Boston police were involved in a deadly encounter.
In both cases, police said the gunmen fired at them first. One officer was wounded in the February shooting.
On Saturday night, Noelia Pagan, who lives next door on the other side of the bed-and-breakfast, said she looked outside after hearing the first gunshots. An officer yelled for her to get away from the window, she said.
Pagan said she was evacuated from her home and taken on a bus to a Boston police station with some other neighbors.
Pagan got home about 5 a.m., but didn’t get to sleep much. Family members kept calling to see if she was all right.
Pagan said she had concerns with the bed-and-breakfast — people mistaking her home for it at all hours and blocking her car in the driveway.
After Saturday’s incident, she said, it should be closed.
Gal Tziperman Lotan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 617-929-2043.