By John Lynds
Traditionally the East Boston Times picks a Man and Woman of the Year but we would be remiss if we failed to mention the brave officers that were wounded during a shoot out with a suspect in October and the officers who helped save one of the wounded officer’s lives as well as the two doctors that performed a miracle that evening.
East Boston Police Officers Richard Cintolo and Matt Morris, Officer Cliff Singletary, Officer Norberto Perez, Dr. David King and Dr. George Velmahos are all the East Boston Times 2016 Persons of the Year.
We rarely think of the bravery of our men in blue on a daily basis until a tragedy strikes like the one that nearly ended Cintolo and Morris’ lives on a calm October night on Gladstone Street.
Cintolo and Morris responded to a domestic call of a fight between two roommates at 136 Gladstone St. on October 12. When the officers arrived they were told by one of the roommate’s that the suspect, later identified as Kirk Figueroa, was threatening him with a knife. Figueroa and the other roommate had argued over a thermostat.
Cintolo and Morris were met by Figueroa who was wearing body armor and appeared to be dressed as a law enforcement official. Officers performed a ‘pat frisk’ of Figueroa as the suspect kept telling officers he was ‘one of them’. 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.
Officer Cliff Singletary who had responded to the call of officer down, 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.
Commissioner William Evans credits Perez’s quick action in saving Morris’s life that night.
Dr. King, one of the country’s leading trauma surgeons and a former Lieutenant Colonel and combat surgeon in the US Army where he served in Afghanistan and Iraq, happened to be at Mass General that night when Cintolo and Morris arrived. He quickly went to work on Morris to save not only his life but also his leg.
Later it was revealed that Dr. King runs a special program that shows how battlefield treatment techniques can save lives for teachers, school nurses, and, more recently, a group of Boston police officers. It was the same program Officer Perez got his training and the importance of how a tourniquet can save a life.