By John Lynds
The Boston Police Department’s top brass, East Boston clergy and even many elected officials and residents have stated that some sort of divine intervention occurred last Wednesday night when District A-7 Officers Richard Cintolo and Matt Morris were met with a hail of gunfire while responding to a domestic call at 136 Gladstone St.
From the quick reaction and first aid training of back up officers, to the help of State troopers and Boston EMS to quickly getting the wounded officers from the scene to Mass General Hospital in Boston to the work of the doctors–every scenario that night seemed to turn what should have been a tragedy into a miracle.
“We asked for everyone’s prayers and everyone in this community was praying for them,” said Police Commissioner William Evans. “It appears somebody upstairs is listening to all of our prayers.”
Before a special Mass at St. Joseph-St. Lazarus Church Monday night, Evans announced that he had visited the two officers at Mass General and they were upgraded to stable condition.
Last Wednesday night, Cintolo and Morris responded to a domestic call of a fight between two roommates at 136 Gladstone St. When the officers arrived they were told by one of the roommates that the suspect, later identified as Kirk Figueroa, was threatening him with a knife. According to reports, Figueroa and the other roommate had argued over a thermostat.
According to sources, Cintolo and Morris were met by Figueroa who was wearing body armor and appeared to be dressed as a law enforcement official. Finding it strange, the officers performed a ‘pat frisk’ of Figueroa. Figueroa, according to sources, kept telling the officers he was ‘one of them’ and when Cintolo found he was armed, Figueroa pushed Cintolo, shot him three times in the neck, chest and arm and then shot Morris in the groin, severing his femoral artery.
Two other officers who heard the commotion over the radio quickly rushed to the scene. Officers Cliff Singletary and Lenin Ortiz had just finished providing security to an LNG tanker coming into the Boston Harbor. The two happened to be in Eastie and in a tactical car that carries long rifles.
Singleton and Ortiz arrived to find District A-7 Officer Eric Schmidt shooting over Cintolo and Morris–trying to drive Figueroa back. While Schmidt provided cover fire, other officers pulled Cintolo and Morris from the house. Morris was bleeding out and had lost 75 percent of his blood.
Singletary reached into Morris’s wound and used his fingers to pinch his artery as District A-7 Sergeant Norberto Perez applied the tourniquet that ultimately saved Morris’s life. Just a few days before the shooting, Perez received training on how to apply a tourniquet-adding to the general sentiment in the neighborhood that someone was watching over the officers that night.
Officers Joe Greco, Joe McSorley, Ralph Amoroso, Hector Gonzalez, Rodney Cameron, and Earl Jacobs all put themselves in harm’s way in order to save their two fallen colleagues and, along with the other responding officers that night–have been elevated to hero status in the eyes of residents in Eastie.
Ultimately the officers neutralized the threat and shot and killed Figueroa after a gun battle that lasted several minutes according to witnesses.
“I’ve never been so proud of the job our men and women did in such a violent situation with total disregard for their own safety,” said Evans. “They went in and rescued both Matt (Morris) and Richie (Cintolo) in some really difficult conditions. They are still really shaken up and some of the officers still get watery eyed when talking about what occurred. I always say taken the live of somebody is the most stressful part of this job. No officer wants to take a life. But when we are met with deadly force like that we have to respond in the way we did.”
The facts and circumstances of the shooting are now being investigated by District Attorney Dan Conley’s office.
“I’m deeply relieved that Officer Cintolo and Officer Morris are out of immediate danger and that no other bystanders or nearby residents were hurt,” said Conley. “I was in East Boston and I know from the evidence at the scene that we’re extremely fortunate that there weren’t more casualties. As District Attorney, I have a special duty in cases like this that goes beyond what most DA’s have nationwide. Massachusetts law places the authority for all death investigations in Boston with my office, including those that arise from the use of force by police.”
Conley added that crime scene on Gladstone Street was as complex as any in recent memory, and two of our most important witnesses are still hospitalized.
“Our job right now is to gather facts, not draw conclusions, and I’m mindful of my responsibility not to prejudge any aspect of what will be a methodical search for the facts and a reasoned application of the law,” he said.