BOSTON (WWLP) — The Massachusetts State Police recognized several officers on Beacon Hill Friday for the courage they showed during a dramatic gun battle that took place in Chicopee last year, leaving one state trooper wounded and a gunman dead.
It was a sunny morning on April 13, 2012 when Massachusetts State Trooper John Vasquez heard that officers were taking gunfire on West Street. Vasquez was one of the first to respond and he drove right into the line of fire.
“I look down, my left leg was covered in blood and then I took a shot through the windshield …which shattered glass in my face and that caused me to flinch,” said Vasquez. “And then my right leg took in 60-70 pieces of shrapnel.”
That’s when Chicopee Police Officer Johnny Jusino exposed himself to the shooter in order to pull Vasquez to safety.
“It was like a movie almost, but it was real,” said Jusino. “Gunfire, you could hear the gunfire, it was hard to determine where the gunfire was coming from at the time… The sound was bouncing off the walls …It’s just another day, that’s what we signed up for.”
Meanwhile, Captain Thomas Charette was leading a team of officers to rescue innocent bystanders on West Street.
“It was extremely dangerous, the assailant had a semi-automatic rifle, he has fired over a hundred rounds. There was probably anywhere from 100-150 civilians in the area,” said Charette.
As people were evacuated, police were able to corner the gunman, forcing him to retreat into a house where he eventually took his own life. State Police honored 20 Chicopee police officers, state troopers and others for their heroism. Trooper Vasquez was awarded the Medal of Honor. He says he still hears the gunshots as if it were yesterday, but if he had to do it again, he says he would.
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