BOSTON (AP) — A decorated Boston police officer remained in a medically induced coma Saturday, a night after he was shot in the face by a man with several gun convictions during a traffic stop that ended when other officers fatally shot his attacker, the city's police commissioner said.
Officer John Moynihan, 34, was struck just below his right eye, and the bullet remains lodged below his right ear, Commissioner William Evans said. He was listed in critical condition,
Evans said Moynihan is undergoing tests and is being monitored for bleeding in his brain. "We are hoping and praying there's not further damage," Evans said.
"He's a fighter. I am sure he's going to pull through," the commissioner said.
Moynihan and five other gang task force members, traveling in two cars, stopped a car Friday night in the city's Roxbury neighborhood after reports of shots fired, Evans said.
The commissioner said the officers had blue lights flashing but none had pulled out their weapons. He said video from the scene shows Moynihan approaching the driver's door, and the suspect, Angelo West, 41, suddenly pull a gun and shoot him at point-blank range.
Evans said West continued firing at the other officers as he tried to run away, emptying his .357 Magnum handgun, and was killed at the scene when police returned fire. A woman driving by in a car suffered a flesh wound; she is recovering and was in good spirits, Evans said. Three other officers were taken to a hospital with stress-related problems.
West had a violent criminal past with several prior gun convictions, Evans said. He fired on police in a 2001 incident, with officers saying they narrowly avoided being shot as they wrestled the gun from him, prosecutors said. They said West told them he didn't care if they shot him.
West was convicted of two counts of armed assault with intent to murder and firearms charges in that incident. He was sentenced to seven to ten years in state prison, said Jake Wark, a spokesman for the Suffolk County district attorney's office. He got off probation in August for his third conviction for illegal possession of a firearm, according to court documents.
Mayor Marty Walsh said Moynihan and the other victim from Friday's shooting are in his prayers.
"I have spoken with Officer Moynihan's family and Commissioner Evans and I am hopeful that under the experienced and talented team at Boston Medical Center the officer will continue on a strong path to recovery," Walsh said.
Moynihan is on the police Youth Violence Task Force and is a highly decorated military veteran, Evans said.
He is a former Army Ranger who served in Iraq in 2006-2007 and was honored at the White House in May with the National Association of Police Organizations TOP COPS award. Moynihan received the award for being one of the first responders in Watertown following the April 2013 gunbattle with the Boston Marathon bombers.
Moynihan had helped transit police Officer Richard Donohue, who was shot in the leg and nearly bled to death when police tried to apprehend Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, Lieutenant Michael McCarthy said.
Evans said Moynihan is single, and his girlfriend, sister and other relatives were at the hospital along with clergy members.
Two other people in the car with West have not been charged in the shooting, Evans said, but are held on unrelated outstanding charges.
District Attorney Daniel Conley said the top prosecutor from his office will investigate the killing of West as state law requires and it will be "completely transparent."
Such shootings are rare in Boston, but firearms are a major concern in the city, the commissioner said.
A clergymen and anti-violence leader, the Rev. Mark Scott of the Azusa Christian Community, said he is praying for Moynihan and his family, and for a neighborhood that has been plagued by violence.
"There is much work that people have done with the police that has made our community a lot safer," he said.