By John Lynds
Last Friday, the two East Boston police officers seriously wounded during a shootout with a suspect on Gladstone Street five months ago got a chance to thank the Massachusetts General doctors that saved their lives during a special ceremony at the Russell Museum in Boston.
Officers Richard Cintolo and Matt 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’ on 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.
Cintolo and Morris presented Doctors George Velmahos and David King each with two honorary badges, a personalized BPD hockey jersey, and a plaque for their efforts in saving their lives after they were shot multiple times and arrived at the doors of Mass General Hospital in need of immediate life-saving care.
Both doctors were truly humbled, citing a team effort from both the medical staff at the hospital and the responding officers and EMTs at the scene, as the reason both officers are still with us today.
“I’ve had many experiences in my career, but to be able to help these heroes and to be called a BPD doctor is a highlight,” said Dr. King.
Officer Cliff Singletary who had responded to the call of officer down that fateful night, 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.