A Massachusetts barber shot inside his shop over the weekend was targeted because his son allegedly had wounded the gunman's mother the week before, a law enforcement official told The Associated Press on Monday.
Tamik Kirkland, a 24-year-old prison escapee, is accused of wounding the barber and killing an innocent customer at the Springfield barbershop on Saturday, minutes before injuring two police officers in a shootout. Kirkland had escaped last week from a state prison in Shirley about 40 miles northwest of Boston with plans to avenge his mother's shooting, authorities have said.
The barber, whose name hasn't been released, is the father of a man suspected of shooting Kirkland's mother and another woman on April 23, said the law enforcement official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the person wasn't authorized to release the information.
The 48-year-old barber was hospitalized in critical condition. Police were still seeking his son Monday afternoon.
Kirkland, whose last known address was in Springfield, was shot several times by officers and remained hospitalized under police guard Monday at Bay State Medical Center. Authorities say his condition has improved to stable from serious. It's not clear when he will be arraigned on charges including murder, three counts of armed assault with intent to murder and armed home invasion.
City and state police, meanwhile, continue to search for another suspect they say had a role in the shooting at Bill Brown's House of Beauty, Barber Shop and Supply. Authorities have a warrant for Trevin Smith, 30, of Springfield, charging him with being an accessory after the fact to Saturday's killing. Details of the charge haven't been released.
The slain customer was identified as 24-year-old Sheldon Innocent, of Wilbraham. Police say he had no connection to Kirkland or the shooting of Kirkland's mother.
Department of Correction officials are investigating Kirkland's escape from MCI Shirley. A preliminary investigation found that Kirkland fashioned a dummy in his bed to evade a head count and walked away from the facility on April 25, said Correction Department spokeswoman Diane Wiffin. A prison staff member has put on paid leave, she said.
Kirkland was being held in the lowest-security section of the medium-security prison, where he was serving 2 1/2 to four years on gun and drug charges. He was eligible for parole next February and escaped from prison after learning his mother was wounded in a shooting, police said.
Police allege that after Kirkland shot the two men in the barbershop shortly after noon Saturday, he fled and forced his way into a city home. About 10 minutes after the shooting, Springfield officers and a state trooper responded to the home. The officers blocked a car from trying to leave the driveway.
Authorities say that as officers were removing the female driver from the car, the vehicle's trunk popped open and Kirkland, who was inside the trunk, opened fire on police. Officers returned fire and shot Kirkland several times.
A Springfield officer, 15-year veteran Raul Gonzalez, and a state trooper were both struck once in the chest, but they were both wearing body armor that absorbed the bullets and prevented serious injury. Police said the shootings happened so quickly that they didn't realize until later that a 6-month-old girl was in the back seat of the car. She wasn't harmed.
Springfield police said Kirkland is a suspected street gang member whom they believe was involved in several other shootings in Springfield over the past week.