A shocking day for Springfield, Massachusetts police saw Officer Nestor Santos hospitalized after being shot in the face and leg during a shooting spree carried out by suspects in two vehicles traveling around the city Wednesday night. Santos is currently in a Boston area hospital with a bullet fragment lodged in his head. He has undergone one surgery, and while doctors managed to save his eye, he will likely lose vision in one eye. Several more surgeries are expected before he can be released. During this incident, seven suspects were arrested, and seven illegal firearms, including an AR-15 style rifle, were recovered.

 

Police believe the shooters thought they were targeting a rival group, though the nature of the rivalry remains unclear. However, Springfield police expressed their concern on Thursday about the growing number of incidents of officers being shot at. Mayor Domenic Sarno stated, “They feel they can do whatever they want to do. Not only to our brave and dedicated police officers, but to our residents and business community.” Emotions are running high for the mayor after one police officer was shot in the face and leg on Wednesday night.

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Springfield Police Superintendent Larry Akers said the injured officer, who is in serious condition, is expected to be okay. “I get a little emotional because I care about my officers,” Akers said.

 

The officer was injured during a shooting spree involving two vehicles full of suspects, starting in the Mason Square area. Springfield Police said it started at 10:40 p.m. on Wednesday when gunshots were fired at members of their Firearms Investigative Unit on College Street from a Honda Civic. No one was hit. Two minutes later, at the intersection of State Street and Hunter Place, shots were fired at an unmarked police car from a Jeep Cherokee. Again, no one was injured. But, a minute later, those in the jeep turned their attention to another officer driving on State Street in his private car on his way to work, and he suffered gunshot wounds.

 

In the meantime, two MassDOT workers on the South End Bridge were injured, one of them seriously, when he was hit by the fleeing Honda Civic from the first shooting scene. Springfield Police moved quickly and were able to locate the Civic near Riverview Terrace. Three occupants were taken into custody, and four firearms were seized on the I-91 ramp. The Jeep was located at a Randall Place home, where four suspects were arrested, and three firearms were recovered. Among them, the youngest suspect, at 16 years old, is currently out on bail for shooting an individual last year.

 

Springfield Police Superintendent Larry Akers pointed out that Springfield Police did not fire back at any point. “It would’ve been very easy in many of these occasions to return fire, to take lives and be justified in doing it. So, to people that are out there and don’t know what it’s like to be a police officer, please think about that.”

 

The motive behind the shooting is unclear; however, Akers believes the suspects thought they were firing at a rival group. “I don’t want to say ‘gangs’. I don’t want to put a label on anyone. Just people in the area who were trying to benefit from however they make their living.” Of the seven suspects arrested, two are juveniles, and five have previous firearms charges.

 

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno is continuing his longstanding call for the court system to keep repeat offenders behind bars, saying, “I’m not going to ask, I’m going to demand the courts and some of the judges do their jobs because we could’ve been walking up here saying that one of our officers had been murdered, killed.”

 

Members of the Springfield Police Department and the injured officer’s family are currently by his side while he is treated at a hospital in Boston. The incident is still under investigation by the Springfield Police Detective Bureau.

 

WEEI Boston’s Sports Original and The Greg Hill Foundation is going all out to raise money for Officer Santos and his family for their long stay in Boston and any upcoming medical bills. If you would like to donate to help Officer Santos, please do so via The Greg Hill Foundation at www.thegreghillfoundation.org.

They are also matching donations up to $7500. Alternatively, you can Venmo the Springfield Police Patrolman’s Union Charitable Arm – 364 Gives. Their Venmo account is @IBPO364Gives. All donations will go directly to Officer Santos and his family.

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