I had a real tight deadline on this tonight, so I’m just posting the story, along with some links to excellent coverage by The Republican in Springfield.
By Robert Mills
A 25-year-old gang member who escaped the minimum-security prison at MCI-Shirley last week emerged from the trunk of a car and shot both a police officer and a state trooper in the chest yesterday in Springfield before he too was shot.
Police said Tamik Kirkland, 25, of Springfield, escaped from MCI-Shirley on Monday morning, about 7:35 a.m., prompting a statewide manhunt by state police and other agencies who warned all week that Kirkland should be considered armed and dangerous.
The Department of Corrections is still investigating Kirkland’s escape, but Diane Wiffin, an agency spokeswoman, said a preliminary review indicates Kirkland fashioned a dummy in his bed to evade a head count, and then walked away from the prison.
Wiffin said a staff member at the prison has been “detached with pay” pending further investigation.
It was just after noon yesterday when police were called to a barber shop on State Street in Springfield and found two men shot. One of those men was killed but the other is expected to survive.
While investigating that incident, Springfield police and an unidentified 6-year veteran of the state police went to a home on Burr Street in Springfield, where they saw a car back up to the house.
Police did not say why officers went to that address.
State Police spokesman David Procopio said officers watched a man leave that house and get into the trunk of the gray car just before the car began to pull away from the home.
Police boxed that car in with cruisers and began to get a female driver out of the car.
“As they’re taking her out of the car, the trunk pops open and shots are fired out of the trunk,” Procopio said.
A 15-year veteran of Springfield Police and a 6-year veteran of the state police were both shot in the chest, Procopio said.
“In both cases the impact was absorbed by body armor,” Procopio said.
Procopio said other officers converged on the area and returned fire, and that Tamik Kirkland was shot and fell out of the trunk.
Kirkland was taken to Bay State Medical Center in Springfield, where he was in critical condition under heavy police guard last night.
Procopio said the state trooper who was shot had a mark from the bullet on his ballistics vest directly above his heart. He said troopers have the option of wearing vests while working.
“It is not mandated,” Procopio said. “We thank God both of these men today had their vests on.”
Procopio said the state trooper involved in the incident had been treated at a local hospital and was already at home last night. He is assigned to Troop B, and is a road trooper in the Springfield area.
The Springfield officer was also expected to survive.
When the gunfire finally stopped, police realized there was a six-month-old girl in the back seat of the car that Kirkland had emerged from, Procopio said.
“This all happened so fast,” Procopio said. “Thank God the child was not hurt.”
The connection between the child, the female driver and Kirkland remains under investigation, according to Procopio.
Procopio said Kirkland will face a single count of murder for killing 24-year-old Sheldon Innocent, of Wilbraham, outside the barber shop. He will also face three counts of armed assault with intent to murder – two counts for shooting the officer and trooper, and another count for shooting the man who survived at the barber shop.
Police did not identify the officers or the surviving civilian.
Kirkland will also face a count of home invasion, three counts of assault with a dangerous weapon, and possession of a firearm, for allegedly forcing his way into the home on Burr Street in Springfield prior to the shootout with police.
There were two other non fatal shootings in Springfield earlier this week.
“We’re investigating his connection to both of those shootings as well,” Procopio said.
The Republican of Springfield reports Kirkland’s mother was shot in Springfield on April 23. She is expected to survive. The newspaper reported last night that police believe Kirkland shot the men at the barber shop in retaliation for his mother’s shooting.
Kirkland was serving 2 1/2 to 4 years for firearms charges. He would have been eligible for parole on Feb. 15, and he would have been released on Aug. 16, 2013 at the latest.
“When the investigation is complete, the DOC will take whatever steps may be necessary to insure that an incident like this does not happen again,” Wiffin said in an email.
The Hampden County District Attorney’s Office could not immediately be reached for comment.
Procopio said police had been canvassing the Springfield area for Kirkland prior to the shooting, because they had intelligence indicating he was in that area, and that he was dangerous.
“They were sitting on locations, working around the clock, going to addresses connected to him and anyone he knew,” Procopio said. “We were focusing pretty intensely on that area.”
For some really on the spot photographs from the scene today, please check the link to The Republican that I posted atop this entry.