The Republican, Springfield, Mass.
SPRINGFIELD – A police officer remains in the hospital after being shot twice and a 25-year-old man has been arrested in what was described as a gun battle outside a nightclub early Sunday morning.
The officer, Edwin Irizarry, who has served at least 20 years on the department, was grazed in the left arm and shot in the left elbow during the incident that occurred shortly before 2 a.m. at the corner of State and Benton Street, Acting Police Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood said.
Kenneth Jose Hernandez, of Dickinson Street, Springfield, was charged with two counts of assault with intent to murder with a firearm, carrying a firearm without a license, discharging a firearm within 500 feet of a building, assault with a dangerous weapon and three counts of malicious damage. He could face other charges in the future, said Ryan Walsh, police spokesman.
“It was definitely a gunfight our officers were in the middle of,” Clapprood said, adding she is grateful the officer is recovering and the second officer was not injured.
A second person was also injured in the shooting. The victim was driven taken to Baystate Medical Center by a friend, treated for two graze wounds and released, she said.
He is cooperating with police. Detectives have also interviewed several other witnesses about the shooting, she said.
Irizarry and a second officer were working a private detail at Club Aquarius when they were told by the manager there was a disturbance outside. Both went outside and found a man across the street at the Dunkin’ who had been attacked by someone else armed with a bottle and was bleeding from his head, Clapprood said.
While they were investigating, one of the officers heard a woman yelling in Spanish to Hernandez, “What are you getting? What are you getting?” she said.
The two officers then saw the man walk to a vehicle and turn around with his hands behind his back. They repeatedly ordered him to show his hands, Clapprood said.
“At which time he produces a .22 caliber firearm and fires at the officers,” she said, during a press conference Sunday morning.
Both officers took cover in a vehicle. At that time there was gunfire coming at them and gunfire was also coming from behind the two, Clapprood said.
Multiple officers then responded to the scene. One of the first officers who arrived, provided medical treatment to Irizarry and rushed him to Baystate Medical Center in his cruiser, she said. Irizarry has been admitted and is expected to survive.
The other officers cordoned off and blanketed the area, searching for the two suspects. Hernandez ran behind the Dunkin’ and was quickly found and handcuffed there, she said.
In total, investigators recovered three different types of ammunition. One came from one of the officers who returned fire and one came from Hernandez’s gun, which was recovered at the scene when he was arrested.
Police are continuing to search for a third suspect and have a description of a car that left the scene which may have been part of the shooting, she said.
“It is a very fluid and active investigation,” she said.
Three vehicles were also struck by gunfire during the shooting, she said.
Police are working with the owner and manager of the Dunkin’ to obtain video of the shooting. They are also trying to get footage from any other video cameras set up nearby as part of the investigation, she said.
Mayor Domenic J. Sarno said he was outraged by the incident that left one veteran officer injured.
He said Hernandez is known to police and has a criminal record. Sarno repeated his complaint about courts releasing what he feels are dangerous criminals on low bails, endangering the community.
The two officers have been placed on administrative pay with leave with pay as is protocol. They will go through a counseling process before they return, Clapprood said.
©2019 The Republican, Springfield, Mass.
Visit The Republican, Springfield, Mass. at www.masslive.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.