UPDATE: The suspect in a fatal shooting of Massachusetts police officer Ronald Tarentino Jr was killed during a shootout, a state police trooper also injured.
OXFORD — Police surrounded a house this afternoon about four miles from the scene of an Auburn police officer’s murder, and gunshots were heard as police deployed tear gas and a robot.
Police are hunting for a man suspected of shooting Officer Ronald Tarentino Jr, a 42-year-old father of three, who later died from his wounds. The house on Watch Street in Oxford is about four miles from the Auburn intersection where Tarentino was shot.
State and local police surrounded the house and were using a bullhorn to tell the occupants to come out.
A be-on-the-lookout alert identifies the suspect as Jorge Zambrano, 35, of Worcester, and describes him as “armed and dangerous …. Officers are advised to use extreme caution.” The alert says he was driving a white 1997 Infiniti QX4 SUV with an attached Massachusetts license plate of 4PJX80 that is not registered to the vehicle.
Meanwhile, an Auburn couple said they want Tarentino’s family to know he wasn’t alone as he lay on the street, shot by a man authorities say is now a fugitive.
The shooting occurred on Rochdale Street at about 12:30 a.m. Tammy and Edward Lemieux’s window overlooks the scene.
“We were headed to bed and we heard gunshots and went to the window and heard him, ‘I’m shot, I’m shot, I’m down, help me!’ I grabbed towels and flew down as fast as we could to help him,” said Tammy Lemieux, 41, adding that she was simultaneously trying to call 911 on her cell phone, but she said, “I couldn’t move my fingers.”
From their window above the fatal shooting scene by to Stoneville Reservoir, Tammy Lemieux said she and her husband could see the blue lights of Tarentino’s cruiser flashing and the officer lying beside the driver’s side door, clutching his mike. They didn’t see the suspect or the suspect’s vehicle, which were already gone. They later spotted Tarentino’s handgun and flashlight in the road. They ran down to help him.
“Somebody was with him, comforting him, and we are so sorry for their loss,” Tammy Lemieux said, sobbing. “I just wish I could have done more. I told him he was going to be OK.”
Tarentino, 42, was a father of three children, and had transferred to Auburn from the Leicester police department two years ago.
“The Auburn police, the town of Auburn and the law enforcement community suffered a tragic loss this morning,” Auburn Police Chief Andrew Sluckis said, reading from a prepared statement, flanked by Worcester District Attorney Joseph Early Jr. and State Police Colonel Richard McKeon.
Sluckis said Tarentino was shot by the occupant of a vehicle he pulled over on Rochdale Street at 12:30 a.m., who then fled in the vehicle, leaving the officer to die in the road.
The chief said no details of the “intensive investigation” into apprehending the shooter are being released “at this time.”
“We are devastated for his family,” Sluckis said of Tarentino. “The residents of Auburn have lost a dedicated and brave public servant. The town should be assured that every available investigative asset from our department, state police, Worcester police, the FBI and the district attorney’s office have been brought to bear on this investigation.
“We will leave no stone unturned in our investigation to determine who was responsible for Officer Tarentino’s murder,” Sluckis said. “Every investigative avenue is being pursued fully and completely.”
Early said no questions would be taken from media because, “We’re still early in the investigation.”
Tarentino was initially taken to UMass Medical Center in Worcester. After his death, his body was later transported with a police escort to the Medical Examiner’s Office in Boston, with police officers saluting from overpasses, and a large contingent of police lining Albany Street honoring the fallen officer as the motorcade arrived. Numerous police departments across the state have posted condolences on Tarentino’s death on their Twitter feeds
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