AUBURN (CBS/AP) — The man who killed an Auburn police officer early Sunday morning had an extensive criminal record, had served time in a maximum-security prison, and had attacked police officers in the past.
State officials said 35-year-old Jorge Zambrano had been released from the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley, a maximum-security prison, on Nov. 1, 2013, after serving time on a list of charges, including cocaine trafficking, two counts of assault and battery on a police officer, two counts of resisting arrest, and selling, using or possessing a firearm silencer.
Zambrano shot and killed Officer Ronald Tarentino during a routine traffic stop in Auburn early Sunday morning. Zambrano was killed after exchanging gunfire with Mass. State Troopers in an Oxford apartment 18 hours later.
WBZ-TV dug into Zambrano’s lengthy criminal history and found this wasn’t the first time he attacked police officers.
In 2011, he pleaded guilty to cocaine trafficking and punching, kicking, and pulling a knife on a Worcester Police officer.
Then, in January 2016, Zambrano was charged with assault and battery after a police officer said Zambrano grabbed his uniform and pulled him into his car with a large pit bull inside. WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Lana Jones reported that case was continued without a finding after Zambrano admitted to sufficient facts.
His most recent arrest, for driving with a revoked license, was earlier this month.
Zambrano was sentenced to seven years behind bars in 2011, but had already served four years at that time. During his time at the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center, the Mass. Department of Corrections said he racked up infractions for possession of “homebrew”/ fermented juices, possession of a 5” plexiglass weapon, marijuana possession, and refusing a housing assignment.
“He was a high risk for violence and recidivism,” the Mass. DOC said in an email to WBZ-TV. They said he had a prior state sentence for drugs, which he was released from in 2007.
Zambrano had 76 cases in Worcester District Court since 1999. Over the years, charges against him there included assault and battery on a household member, possession of a dangerous weapon, drug distribution, and numerous license suspensions. He died with three open cases in Worcester County Superior Court charging him with cocaine trafficking.
WBZ-TV also learned Zambrano had more than 90 violations on his driving record. MassDOT said Zambrano’s license/right to operate a motor vehicle has not been valid since 2002.
Massachusetts Trial Court Chief Justice Paula Carey issued the following statement to WBZ-TV regarding Zambrano:
We are profoundly saddened and distressed by the tragic murder of Auburn Police Officer Ronald Tarentino, Jr. and the shooting of a Massachusetts State Trooper. We express our deepest condolences to Officer Tarentino’s family.
Jorge Zambrano had both past and pending cases in the court system including serving a seven year State Prison sentence. All public court records on this matter are publicly available.
We are carefully examining all of the circumstances regarding Jorge Zambrano’s criminal history in order to determine whether additional systemic steps should have been taken in his case.
Police said Sunday they were not going to get into Zambrano’s lengthy record or why he was out of jail at this time.
Former Boston Police Commissioner and current WBZ-TV Security Analyst Ed Davis said criminals such as Zambrano end up back on the streets too often.
“When you have an Incorrigible criminal, someone who just doesn’t cooperate whether they’re in jail or out of jail, the criminal justice system doesn’t know what to do with them to be honest with you,” Davis said.
After shooting Officer Tarentino, Zambrano led multiple law enforcement agencies to an apartment in Oxford, about seven miles south of Auburn, where he exchanged gunfire with Mass. State Troopers. Police said Zambrano hid inside a closet, bursting out to shoot at troopers.
“The suspect appeared from inside a closet and fired on the troopers, striking one of them,” said State Police Colonel Richard McKeon Sunday night. “The STOP (State Police Special Tactical Operations) team returned fire and struck the suspect.”
Zambrano was taken to a hospital, where he later died. The Trooper, an 18-year veteran of the force and former U.S. Navy Seal, was struck in the shoulder. He underwent surgery late Sunday night and was recovering in the hospital. His name has not yet been released.
Officer Tarentino is the first Massachusetts police officer shot to death in three years. In 2013, Officer Sean Collier was in his MIT cruiser when he was killed by the Tsarnaev brothers after the Boston Marathon bombings.
Across America, 39 officers have been killed in the line of duty so far this year, with 20 of those deaths resulting from gunfire–a 43 percent increase over the number of officers killed by firearms last year, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.
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