ATTLEBORO (CBS) – Two rookie Attleboro Police officers shot and wounded a man who fired at them early Monday morning, investigators said.
Police got a call around 6:45 a.m. for a man, later identified as 41-year-old Eric Lindsey of Coventry, RI, inside a church with a semiautomatic gun. The church’s pastor tried to talk the man, but when the man left he called 911. When officers arrived, he was gone, according to Attleboro Police Chief Kyle Heagney.
They found him a short time later on Route 1A near Barrow Street holding two backpacks, but when they approached him the chief said the man started firing at the officers without warning.
“Out of sheer bravery and heroism, the officers jumped out of their cruisers, the rounds entered the windshield of both cruisers and struck the head rests. Had the officers, in my opinion, not took evasive action so instinctively and quickly, they probably would have succumbed or been dead or definitely not with us today,” Heagney told reporters.
The officers returned fire and Lindsey was hit “multiple times,” the chief said. Attleboro Mayor Paul Heroux said the officers then applied a tourniquet to the gunman saving his life. Lindsey was rushed to Rhode Island Hospital and into surgery. There’s no word yet on his condition. Heagney said Lindsey was already wanted on a fugitive from justice charge in Rhode Island for attempted murder.
“We’re not sure why he was in Attleboro. We’re not sure why he was in that church,” the chief said. “God forbid that (the officers) were still sitting in those cruisers. It’s shocking when you see those rounds in the head rests, going through that windshield.”
When it was all over there were 43 shell casings on the ground.
Dale Fontaine was nearby when he heard the exchange. “I heard ‘drop the gun.’ And I was like ‘what the heck?’ and I’m sitting in the drive-through and I’m like ‘what was that?’ and it’s just pop, pop.”
The officers were not seriously hurt, police said, but they were taken to the hospital to be treated for shock and emotional distress before they were released. One of the officers had a minor injury from diving out of his cruiser.
“It happened so quickly, so fast, he wasn’t able to put the cruiser in park,” the chief said, adding that the officer’s vehicle actually traveled up the road about 300 feet before it came to a stop.
The officers names have not been released. Heagney said neither has been on the force very long.
“They’re doing the best they can in dealing with this,” he said.
“The two police officers could not have performed their duties more professionally. After taking fire from the suspect, they not only saved their own lives and each other’s lives, but they also saved the suspect’s life, ending the situation,” Heroux said in a statement. “There is no reason to believe that these two police officers did anything wrong or responded in any other way than their training would have had them respond.”
Part of Route 1A remained closed for the investigation. Police would not release the name of the church where the incident started.
On Monday afternoon, according to the Bristol County District Attorney’s Office, Lindsey was formally charged with two counts of firearm-armed assault to murder, four counts of attempted assault and battery with a firearm, four counts of assault with a dangerous weapon, three counts of possessing a large capacity feeding device, and one count each of breaking and entering, unlawful possession of a large capacity firearm, unlawful possession of ammunition, discharging a firearm within 500 feet of a building, carrying an illegal firearm and carrying a loaded illegal firearm.