Police officer John T. Moynihan is now in stable condition after a gunshot to his face on Friday afternoon left him critically injured and the perpetrator dead at the scene. 41- year old Angelo West shot at Moynihan and other members of BPD’s gang unit when they pulled over the car he was driving on Humboldt Avenue in Roxbury around 6:40 on Friday, March 27.
Although Moynihan, 34, was initially put into a medically induced coma, his condition is now improving after undergoing surgery Sunday that removed the bullet lodged in his neck.
News reports say West had a violent past and a lengthy criminal record, which the Boston Globe points to as his motive for opening fire on the officers:
When members of the Boston police gang unit stopped the car he was driving on Humboldt Avenue on Friday evening, he knew that the .357 Magnum he was carrying was a ticket back to Cedar Junction in Walpole, and he wasn’t going out like that.
So he came out of the car, without a word, put his gun to the face of John Moynihan, and pulled the trigger. Then he ran off, turning back to fire at Moynihan’s colleagues.
This was not the first time West had taken shots at police officers in Boston.
According to the WBZ I-Team of CBS Boston, Suffolk County prosecutors aimed to try West as an “armed career criminal,” demanding a harsher minimum sentence, after he opened fire on police officers during a violent 2001 encounter in the Theater District while an officer attempted to handcuff West for a drug related crime.
An indictment for the 2001 criminal charges listed West’s previous convictions: an assault with a dangerous weapon in 1992; possession of a firearm in 1995; and drug dealing near a school in 1997.
Those three convictions would have meant a mandatory 15 to 20-year sentence, according to the Armed Career Criminal (ACC) statute.
However, prosecutors ultimately did not pursue the ACC sentence. Court records show that part of the charge was dismissed after a jury found West guilty in 2003.
The I-Team asked for an explanation for the dismissal. Jake Wark, a spokesman for the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office, said it turned out the 1995 possession of a firearm conviction did not meet the legal threshold to be included in the ACC argument. As a result, West’s prison stint likely would not have differed from the 10-year sentence the judge ultimately imposed, Wark said.
The Boston Globe has more on the 2001 incident.
According to the Boston Herald, a passenger in West’s car at the time had an outstanding warrant for his arrest and was later arraigned at Charlestown District Court.
Officers gathered at St. Patricks Church in Roxbury on Sunday to pray for Moynihan, and Vice President Biden visited him at Boston Medical Center Monday afternoon. President Obama also praised Moynihan, who received the “top cops” honor last year because of his involvement in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing and previously served as an army ranger, for his bravery and wished him a “full and speedy recovery” during a speech on Monday.
Mayor Marty Walsh was among the many officials who weighed in and sent their well wishes to Officer Moynihan, stating on Friday:
“My thoughts and prayers are with the Officer injured tonight, his family and friends and the entire Boston Police Department during this difficult time. These acts of violence have no place in our neighborhoods. Our community is stronger than ever, and tonight we are thankful for all of those who put their lives on the on the line everyday to protect our City.”