NEWS NEWS AND MORE NEWS I am going to get all of my memories down, before I forget what I remember!. . . . quote from Stanley Forman

4Aug/122

Halt Or I’ll Shoot! My Gun Arrest That Did Not Happen

BPD Offi­cer Ken Jame­son mak­ing an arrest in the on the cor­ner of Beach and Wash­ing­ton Streets, down­town Boston, for­merly known as the Com­bat Zone.

Grow­ing up in Revere in the 50s and 60s I was friendly with a lot of cops. Most of them never had to unhol­ster their weapon. Prob­a­bly a good thing as reg­u­lar tar­get prac­tice was not a reg­u­lar practice.

It was a hot sum­mer day, July 4th I think, around 1980, no traf­fic, sun shin­ing, about 8 in the morn­ing. I was dri­ving down Colum­bia Road on the way to the office.  Colum­bia Road sep­a­rates Rox­bury and Dorch­ester  some­times it can be a dicey area. I looked up the street to the cor­ner of Colum­bia Road and Quincy Street and saw this group of 3 or 4 teenagers flip­ping what I thought was a foot­ball. I smiled to myself think­ing, “what fun.”

Then I saw a dis­traught young woman stand­ing out­side of her car cry­ing and scream­ing and I knew it wasn’t a foot­ball they were toss­ing. Yep, it was her pock­et­book going from hand to hand. I put the pedal to the metal in my “Vet” (not really I had a 1975 Buick Sky­lark) and began the pur­suit for the bad guys. I acti­vated my siren bur­glar alarm so they might think I was a cop and went fly­ing after them.

At one point I could have crushed one of the perps against one of the pil­lars from the rail­road bridge we were going under, but thank­fully I had the pres­ence of mind not to. The group ran into a big park try­ing to get away.

I pulled up on the side­walk jumped out of my car and assumed the posi­tion I saw cops do on TV, crouched down using my car as a shield. I was ready to make my cap­ture but first I had to catch them. I reached onto my belt, grabbed my pager and made believe I had a gun. I yelled, “HALT OR I’ll SHOOT”!

My mind was rac­ing and think­ing what am I going to do if they do stop?

BANG, I mean BANG a gun went off! “WTF, was that?” I was shocked; I knew I did not shoot any­thing and I thought I must be in a movie and even looked at my fin­gers, won­der­ing how this happened.

Did I have some mys­te­ri­ous pow­ers? I was look­ing to see if there was smoke com­ing out of my fin­gers like watch­ing an old cow­boy movie where you could see the smoke com­ing out the bar­rel of a weapon just discharged.

Still mys­ti­fied, I looked around and to my right was a tow truck with the dri­ver out on the side of his truck and his 45-caliber pis­tol in the air, which he just fired. Then he runs after the kids, picks up a large rock and throws it at them, hit­ting one of them in the back.

I was still in shock won­der­ing what would have hap­pened had he struck the thieves? I have no idea if he fired at them or in the air to scare them. I looked at him, waved and left, still shak­ing. I would guess he returned the pock­et­book to the woman after he retrieved it when they dropped it.

I con­tin­ued to the office, told sev­eral peo­ple in the news­room the story and had them laugh­ing. Next day in the photo lab wall was a photo of the Cisco Kid, with his som­brero on, his bands of bul­lets hang­ing from his shoul­ders and a pic­ture of me inserted instead of Cisco’s face. It was really funny.

But being there for gun arrests was very unusual back then. Cops did not pull guns out fre­quently. I can tell you there were many news pho­tog­ra­phers who never got pic­tures of a gun arrest. I have been very lucky that way.

My first gun arrest was a few blocks from the office when we were down­town. I got to the cap­ture of a rob­bery sus­pect at the cor­ner of Devon­shire and Milk Streets and they had the sus­pect over a car. All of a sud­den, one of the cops lifted the gun up and I got the shot. Could I have yelled show me the gun? I for­get. Page one though.

I had a streak of about six-gun arrests in less than six months back then. It started in Peabody when reporter Bob Kee­ley and I were dri­ving back to Boston and on the State Police radio I heard a BOLO about an armed rob­bery. Within a minute or two a cruiser spot­ted the truck about a mile in front of us.

We raced to the scene. The cop ordered the dri­ver out by gun­point and I took many pho­tos. I had taken some really good pho­tos and Bob ended up doing a story on the cap­ture. Works out the sus­pect did not rob any­one and I don’t remem­ber if any charges were filed. He report­edly mis­tak­enly left a gas sta­tion with­out pay­ing for gas.

Dur­ing that streak I was cruis­ing down Wash­ing­ton Street in what used to be called the com­bat zone (Wash­ing­ton and Beach Streets) when an inci­dent hap­pened and there I was tak­ing pho­tos of another gun arrest.

MDC Cop and BPD Offi­cer mak­ing an arrest of an alledged stolen car plus other charges against the perp. MDC Police were com­bined with the State Police many years ago.

There was also the time there was a bolo for a per­son wanted for a stab­bing or some­thing like that as I was com­ing to work on my Fri­day morn­ing mid­night shift. All of a sud­den the MDC police (now com­bined with State Police) spot­ted the wanted vehi­cle and chased it from the other side of Boston to about 100 feet of where I was parked.

As I was run­ning over, the cop got out of his cruiser, gun drawn yelling for the perp to put his hands up. I ran over yelling “pho­tog­ra­pher, flash going off” as I did not want the cop to think it was a flash from a gun.

Another thing most news peo­ple don’t get to hear is the sound of gun­fire and I have been at those inci­dents also. The scari­est one was on Boston’s Fen­way. I was in the Ken­more Square area when the call came in for an armed rob­bery on Jer­sey Street, near Fen­way Park. It was at one of those mom and pop mar­kets. Boston Police Office Gene O’Neil was shot at and the win­dow of the store was blown out from the gun­fire. He was not hit but it brought scores of cops and cruis­ers to the area.

The chase ended up on the Fen­way and maybe 25 or more cops sur­rounded the area and there was one shot fired, then there was scores of “POP, POP, POP” sounds. It sounded like every­one with a gun was fir­ing it. I hid behind a wall on the over­pass next to a cop who stood behind his cruiser. I remem­ber when his dis­patch­ers called ask­ing if he needed more help he told them “no” think­ing any more cops there and who knows who will get shot.

The perp was not cap­tured but in the spring a body of a man believed to be the sus­pect was found in the Muddy River where he had been chased and fired upon.

But some­times I do use my com­mon sense. I was work­ing the overnight shift and there was a call for a sus­pect wanted for some­thing in Brighton. BPD had him cor­nered in a back­yard behind a build­ing at the inter­sec­tion of Com­mon­wealth and Brighton Avenue, called Packard Square. I ran down the side of the build­ing towards the back­yard and all of a sud­den a shot was fired in the back­yard. I turned around and ran back to street and instead took the shot of the perp being put into the wagon. Com­mon sense kicked it!

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  1. Stan, great sto­ries. All of us who have been shoot­ers can relate to unusual cir­cum­stances along the way. I won­der what this tow truck dri­ver thought of you “fir­ing” a pager! Still, clever reflexes on your part and I think it might have worked if he hadn’t shown up. Cheers, Tom

  2. Very good post. I cer­tainly appre­ci­ate this web­site.
    Keep writing!


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