Police say accused killer avenged shooting of mom

AP News
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Posted: May 01, 2011 2:58 PM
Police say accused killer avenged shooting of mom

A man accused of murder in the shootings of four people in Springfield, Mass., including two police officers, had escaped from prison to avenge the shooting of his mother, police say.

Tamik Kirkland had been missing since Monday from MCI Shirley, a state prison about 42 miles northwest of Boston.

He is accused of taking part in at least three shootings, including one Saturday in which authorities say he shot two people, one fatally, in a barbershop and later shot two officers. State police identified the man fatally shot as 24-year-old Sheldon R. Innocent of Wilbraham. The other victim, a 48-year-old barber whose name was not released, was in critical condition.

Police say Kirkland was eligible for parole next February and escaped from prison after learning that his mother was wounded in a double shooting April 23. Police are investigating how the victims in the shooting Saturday may be connected to the shooting of Kirkland's mother.

Springfield police Sgt. John Delaney in a statement that Kirkland is suspected to be responsible for several shootings in the past week in Springfield. Police say he is a street gang member.

Kirkland served jail time in 2003 on charges of intent to distribute cocaine and carrying firearms. He was charged Saturday night with murder, armed assault with intent to murder, armed home invasion, assault with a dangerous weapon and illegal possession of a firearm.

Acting on a tip from a 911 caller, two plainclothes Springfield police officers responded to a duplex where a running car had been backed into the driveway. They called for more officers and a nearby state trooper arrived.

As police approached, a man dived into the trunk of the car. Police blocked the car and took the driver, an unidentified woman, into custody. When they opened the trunk, Kirkland popped out and opened fire on the officers, police said.

The state trooper and one of the local officers were each shot once in the chest before they returned fire, police said. Kirkland was shot several times and is in serious condition at Baystate Medical Center, police say.

A spokeswoman for the hospital said Sunday she has no information about Kirkland.

The injured Springfield officer was identified as Raul Gonzalez, a 15-year veteran. The state trooper was not identified. The officers were wearing bullet-proof vests and were not seriously injured.

Police said the shootings occurred so quickly they did not realize until later that a 6-month-old girl was in the back seat of the car. She was not harmed.

State Police said Kirkland had forced his way into the woman's home as he fled the barbershop. He was serving 2 1/2 to 4 years and was being held in the lowest-security section of the medium-security prison.

Diane Wiffin, a spokeswoman for the Department of Correction, said a preliminary investigation showed that Kirkland fashioned a dummy in his bed to evade a head count and walked away from the facility. A prison staff member has been put on paid leave, Wiffin said.