Police Chief Brian Kyes said this week that he considers the officer that shot an armed suspect to have conducted himself in a heroic fashion early Sunday morning, but that in today’s new world surrounding officer-involved shootings, he has moved to be utterly transparent and investigate the shooting both inside the department and outside the department.
“In my opinion, this is a different world now with any officer-involved shooting and we want to be as transparent as we can,” he said. “Some departments might choose to investigate this within their department only. What I chose to do is have an independent, outside agency like the State Police investigate the officer-involved shooting in parallel with our own internal investigation…Based on all the facts I have, including witness testimony and video evidence…, I’m fully confident the officer did exactly what he had to do and in all reality I think he is a hero for what he did that night. Based on the evidence, I’m very proud of the entire shift and in particular the three officers that were right there.”
The suspect, who had opened fire on a car around 12:30 a.m. Sunday on Broadway, is still being held under 24-hour police guard at Mass General Hospital to treat one bullet wound to the lower chest area.
The man charged is Igor Peulic, 32, of Chelsea.
Kyes said he is being treated for his wounds, but would be arraigned on several firearms charges once he is medically cleared.
According to Kyes, as the bars were emptying out around 12:30 a.m. on Sunday morning, the suspect and a friend came from the direction of Tu Casa Restaurant. It is still uncertain if the two were in that establishment, but it is possible that they were there.
At the same time, a motor vehicle drove down Broadway and turned at 4th Street.
According to video evidence, the friend crossed the street to the vicinity of the Chelsea Walk Pub.
The suspect appeared to have something in his hand, and then dropped it in the street.
As he picked it up, police said that they observed his hand raise up and fire three rounds.
Kyes said they aren’t sure who the shots were meant for, whether it was the turning motor vehicle or a parked car that fled the scene.
“It’s unclear with any degree of certainty whether he was shooting up Broadway to the car at 4th Street,” said the chief.
What is certain is that two police cruisers stationed in Bellingham Square immediately heard the gunshots and rushed to the scene.
Police exited their cruisers and located the suspect fleeing down the Chelsea Walk.
One officer was hot on the trail, just about 10 paces behind the suspect, observing him carrying a firearm that Kyes described as a “canon.” The suspect held the .357 revolver in his right hand as he ran up Cherry Street and to 5th Street.
Simultaneously, an officer stationed in the parking lot of City Hall heard the radio calls and deduced that the suspect would soon be heading up Chestnut Street towards City Hall.
The officer then drove his cruiser halfway down Chestnut Street, parked it and – lo and behold – observed the suspect running up the street right towards him.
Kyes said the officer – who wishes to remain anonymous to protect himself and is now on paid administrative leave – exited the cruiser and drew his firearm.
“He ordered the individual to drop the gun twice,” said Kyes. “’Drop the gun, drop the gun’ he said. The individual rushed toward the officer. He ran toward the direction of the officer and he raised the gun in his right hand in the direction of the officer, leaving the officer no choice but to fire. He fired three rounds and one hit the suspect in the lower right chest area. The other two rounds hit a brick wall. The suspect went down and the officer approached him. The gun was on the ground and the suspect reached for the gun while he was on the ground, but the officer stopped him and called immediately for medical aid.”
Kyes said officers really have no choice when a gun is raised in their direction, and he said he was proud the officer shot to disarm rather than to kill.
“Some people think police draw their gun and shoot all the time and it’s not the case,” he said. “In my 28 years, I’ve never fired my gun at anybody. If you had 100 officers, 99 of them probably haven’t fired at anyone. You draw your gun when there’s a reason to do so. When a suspect raises a gun in the direction of an officer, that’s pretty scary. He really left the officer no choice…We never shoot to kill; we shoot to stop. That’s what this officer did. He knocked the suspect down and I have every reason to believe the suspect will survive.”
Kyes said the situation occurs at a time when police-involved shooting are at an all-time high for public and professional scrutiny. He said his department wants to prove to the public, and everyone else, that they have acted above reproach and train never to shoot unless absolutely necessary.
“You train, train, train as a police officer and hope to never be put in that situation, but when you are, you have to act and your training takes over,” he said. “You hope a suspect doesn’t put you in that position. You have an obligation to go home to your family.”
In addition to the DA’s investigation, an examination of this event is also being conducted by the Chelsea Police Department’s Professional Standards Division – Critical Incident Review Team. This review will focus on existing policy, tactics, and training as they relate to the use of force in this situation. Kyes said there was no timeline for the investigation, and it could take anywhere from a few weeks to a month.
Anyone with any information regarding this incident – or any other in the City of Chelsea – is reminded and strongly encouraged to provide it to the Suffolk County State Police Detective Unit at 617-727-8817 or Chelsea Police Department by calling the 24-hour CrimeStoppers tip line at 617-466-4880. Callers may remain anonymous if they wish. Tips can also be submitted through the Chelsea Police Department’s website at www.chelseapolice.com. The Chelsea Police Department MYPD app is also available for Smartphone applications such as Apple and Android.