Sergeant John Conneely and Officer Michael Modzelewski
Chicago (IL) Police Department
Washington, DC—The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund has selected Sergeant John C. MacLellan, Sergeant Jeffrey J. Pugliese, Officer Miguel A. Colon, Jr., Officer Timothy B. Menton, and Officer Joseph B. Reynolds, of the Watertown (MA) Police Department, to receive its Officers of the Month Award for October 2013.
On April 15, 2013, 24,662 participants gathered at the starting line for the start of the 117th Boston Marathon, in Hopkinton, Massachusetts. However, many of those participants never had the opportunity to finish the race. At 2:50 pm, two bombs encased in pressure cookers exploded 200 yards apart on Boylston Street, killing three people and injuring more than 260 others. Immediately, a massive investigation and subsequent manhunt were launched, involving law enforcement officers from federal, state, and local departments, including those from Boston’s many colleges and universities.
Three days later, on April 18—the same day that the FBI released photographs of the bombing suspects—Officer Sean Collier, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Police Department, sat in his patrol vehicle on the MIT campus, positioned with a clear view of an intersection where illegal turns were common. Within hours of reporting for duty, 26-year-old Officer Collier, who had dreamed of a career in law enforcement, was fatally gunned down.
“They were heroic, very talented, and had the guts and glory to defend our town, our community, in a very tight situation,” said Watertown (MA) Police Chief Edward Deveau.
News of Officer Collier’s murder spread quickly, and officers in neighboring Watertown were told to be extra vigilant. At approximately 12:25 am, Watertown police officials were notified by the Cambridge (MA) Police Department that a stolen vehicle, tracked via GPS, was headed their way. Watertown Police Officer Joseph Reynolds notified dispatch that the stolen vehicle was in his sight and was now parked alongside another automobile. As both vehicles drove away, Officer Reynolds followed at a safe distance. He was instructed by Police Sergeant John MacLellan not to initiate a stop until backup arrived.
Officer Reynolds continued to follow the suspects without activating his emergency lights or sirens. Suddenly, both suspect vehicles stopped. One of the suspects exited the vehicle and began shooting at Officer Reynolds, who took cover, put his cruiser in reverse, and quickly backed up the street away from the shooter. He stopped, then radioed “shots fired” and exited his cruiser—using his driver’s side door as cover—and returned fire at the suspect.
Sergeant John MacLellan arrived on the scene and was met with the assailant’s gunfire. He exited his still-moving vehicle as it rolled toward the suspects, causing the distraction he needed to get out of the line of fire. Officer Miguel Colon arrived on the scene and positioned his patrol cruiser in front of Sergeant MacLellan to provide additional protection. As the gun battle continued, the suspects threw five improvised explosives at the officers. Three of them exploded, including one encased in a pressure cooker, identical to the devices used at the finish line of the Boston Marathon.
Meanwhile, Sergeant Jeffrey Pugliese scrambled through backyards in order to flank the suspects. As he approached, one of them charged toward him. Sergeant Pugliese exchanged gunfire with the suspects at a distance of six to eight feet, with nothing but a chain link fence between them. As Sergeant Pugliese was reloading his weapon, one of the suspects, who had also run out of ammunition, threw his gun at the officer and began to flee. Sergeant Pugliese ran after the suspect and tackled him. Sergeant MacLellan and Officer Reynolds rushed to help Sergeant Pugliese, and as the three officers struggled to handcuff the suspect, the second suspect climbed back into the stolen vehicle and drove straight at them. Without a second to spare, the officers were able to jump clear of the oncoming vehicle; however, the first suspect fell beneath the vehicle operated by the second suspect, and was dragged several feet.
After the vehicle fled the scene, Officer Timothy Menton heard someone call out that he had been shot. Officer Menton found Officer Richard Donohue, with the Metropolitan Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), bleeding profusely from a gunshot wound in the groin. Officer Menton called for an ambulance, and rendered aid to Officer Donohue until medical personnel arrived. As the wound was too high for a tourniquet, Officer Menton applied pressure on the wound while other officers began CPR and Officer Reynolds provided oxygen with a self-inflating resuscitator. Once the ambulance arrived, medical technicians administered emergency care to Officer Donohue, whose gunshot wound had severed three major blood vessels in his right thigh. By the time he reached the hospital, Officer Donohue had lost nearly all his blood supply. Approximately two months after the incident, Officer Donohue was able to leave the hospital. He continues to recover from his injuries.
The shootout that brought down the Boston Marathon bombers had lasted only eight minutes, but more than 300 rounds were fired. The first suspect died at the scene, and a massive manhunt ended with the apprehension of the second suspect several hours later. Authorities discovered him hiding in a boat parked in a Watertown resident’s backyard. The city of Boston and its resilient citizens owe a debt of gratitude to its first responders and the brave men and women who serve in law enforcement throughout the Boston area.
“The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund is honored to present these five Watertown officers with our Officer of the Month Awards for October 2013,” said Craig W. Floyd, Memorial Fund Chairman & CEO. “Their actions in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings ensured that the terrorists responsible were swiftly brought to justice,” he said. “They are most deserving of the Officer of the Month Awards.”
Sergeants MacLellan and Pugliese, Officers Colon, Menton and Reynolds, along with the other Officer of the Month Award winners for 2013, will be honored at a special awards luncheon in Washington, DC, in May 2014, during National Police Week. In addition, their stories of heroism and service will be featured in the Memorial Fund’s annual calendar..
The Police Unity Tour is the official sponsor of the Memorial Fund’s Officer of the Month Program.