AUBURN (CBS/AP) — The mother of the Auburn police officer shot and killed in the line of duty says people need to have more respect for police.
“I just wish people had a little bit more respect for what they do — nobody has respect for them anymore,” Sharon Tarentino told the Boston Herald hours after her son, Officer Ronald Tarentino, was murdered during a traffic stop Sunday.
“You never think it’s going to happen to you, it hits you like a sledgehammer. It’s just not fair,” she said.
The American flag has been lowered to half-staff outside the Auburn police station and several other locations across the state in memory of Officer Tarentino.
The town’s residents left bouquets of flowers and miniature American flags piled at the bottom of a stone monument dedicated to law enforcement officers who’ve been killed in the line of duty.
The man accused of killing Tarentino was shot to death Sunday evening after exchanging gunfire with police and wounding a state trooper, officials said.
The suspect, identified as 35-year-old Jorge Zambrano, burst out of a bedroom closet and opened fire on officers Sunday evening as they approached him inside a duplex apartment in Oxford. Oxford is about 7 miles south of Auburn, where the police officer was fatally shot hours earlier.
“The suspect appeared from inside a closet and fired on the troopers, striking one of them,” said State Police Colonel Richard McKeon. “The STOP (State Police Special Tactical Operations) team returned fire and struck the suspect.”
Zambrano, who authorities said had a criminal history, was taken to a hospital, where he died. WBZ-TV has learned he had more than 90 violations on his driving record.
The injured trooper suffered a gunshot wound to his left shoulder. He came out of surgery late Sunday night at UMass-Lakeside Hospital and remains hospitalized, according to state police. He is an 18-year veteran and former U.S. Navy Seal. His name wasn’t released.
“I’m extremely proud of the work done by every trooper and officer involved in today’s investigation and tactical operation,” said Massachusetts State Police Colonel Richard McKeon. “My pride is outweighed only by my sorrow for the Tarentino family and the Auburn police, and my concern over our injured trooper.”
The violent end to the manhunt came nearly 18 hours after Tarentino was shot dead by Zambrano during a traffic stop at about 12:30 a.m. Sunday in Auburn, authorities said.
The 42-year-old Tarentino was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead. He had been with the Auburn police force for two years, and before that worked with the Leicester Police Department in his hometown. He leaves behind a wife and three children. One is graduating from high school next week, according to the officer’s mother.
Officials said Zambrano fled the scene after the shooting. They later learned that he was at the Oxford duplex and spotted what they believed was his vehicle parked behind the building. It remained unclear why Zambrano may have shot Tarentino or why he went to the duplex.
After the manhunt, officials assured Massachusetts residents that they were safe.
“The threat he (Zambrano) posed to our community is now over,” Auburn Police Chief Andrew Sluckis said. “We now continue the process of speaking for Officer Tarentino by continuing to investigate all the facts and circumstances of his homicide. We owe his family a thorough accounting of everything that occurred.”
State and local police officers lined up outside of the hospital Sunday as a police vehicle, escorted by a procession, took Tarentino’s body to the state medical examiner’s office in Boston, where the vehicle was met by another large contingent of officers.
Tarentino was the second police officer to die in the line of duty in Massachusetts this year. State police Trooper Thomas Clardy was killed March 16 when his cruiser was struck by another vehicle.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Karen Twomey reports
(TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)