05/24/2007

Boston officer shot, injured, in gunfire exchange with gang member

Boston officer shot; Gunfight leaves suspect wounded

By David Abel and Suzanne Smalley
The Boston Globe Staff 

BOSTON, Mass. — In another burst of city violence, a Boston police officer and an alleged gang member were wounded in an exchange of gunfire last night near an elementary school in Dorchester, authorities said.

Police officials identified the officer as Steve Romano, 41, a member of the youth violence strike force, who has served in the department since 1996.

He was shot in the chest, with the bullet apparently hitting him where he did not have protection from his vest, said a law enforcement official with knowledge of the investigation.

"His injuries are serious but not life-threatening," said Commissioner Edward F. Davis in a brief press conference in front of Boston Medical Center, where an ambulance took the injured officer. Police closed off cross streets to hasten his arrival for treatment.

Davis said the suspect was in "critical but stable" condition at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. He said police were looking for another male suspect.

The shooting occurred about 9:50 last night on Westville Street, near the John Marshall Elementary School.

Police officials said officers -- Romano was accompanied by an officer and a state trooper -- made an "investigative stop" when they discovered gang members on a rival's turf.

They tried to stop Antonio Franklin, who had been shot earlier this year, and Durrell Curry of the Geneva-Everton gang when the two fled, a law enforcement official said. They were apparently on the territory of the Crown Path gang.

The officers chased the pair to the Marshall Elementary School, where Franklin allegedly took out a gun and opened fire on Romano, officials said. The bullet didn't strike vital organs, the law enforcement official said.

The trooper returned fire, hitting Franklin. Authorities did not release the name of the trooper.

Davis said the department's firearm discharge team was investigating the episode.

By yesterday, there had been 23 homicides in the city this year, one more than last year. As of May 13, there had been 84 nonfatal shootings in Boston, compared with 128 at the same period last year.

Police did not comment last night on what charges the suspects would face.

Franklin originally told officers he had no injuries. When he was being booked at the C-11 station in Dorchester, officers discovered his wounds, and he was taken to Beth Israel, police said.

"It was adrenaline" that blocked his awareness of being wounded, a police official said.

Coincidentally, police had responded to a reported shooting in the same area of Westville Street the previous evening, at about 7:30. Officers learned that the victim got himself to Boston Medical Center, where he was treated for a gunshot wound to the shoulder. The victim told police he was riding his bike when he heard five shots. His injuries were not life-threatening, police said.

Yellow tape marked off the area near last night's shooting.

Neighbors said they saw more officers than at any of the other shootings in the neighborhood.

"This is scary," said Carmen Powell, who has lived on Bowdoin Street for the past year. "I can't believe this is happening. It's crazy. It's getting worse this year. You drive through here, and cops have streets cordoned off all the time. You hear pops all the time. It's scary."

A mother named Julie who lives on Bowdoin Street said she heard three shots while watching "American Idol." She said police arrived in seconds.

"It's sad ; it's not even the summer yet," she said. She said she did not want to get close to her windows.

Teresa Harvey-Jackson, principal of the Marshall Elementary School, said: "This is becoming an everyday thing. We're working on helping our kids understand that peace is important."

The last Boston police officer to die in the line of duty was Berisford Wayne Anderson in 1994. He was shot to death.

In August 2002, Zenaida Flores was shot in the arm and leg in Chinatown, becoming the first female Boston police officer shot in the line of duty. Another officer shot the suspect, James Gaines, in the elbow, ending a running gunfight in a congested neighborhood.

Globe correspondents Michael Naughton, Khristopher Flack, and John Guilfoil contributed to this report. 

Copyright 2007 The Boston Globe

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