SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The Springfield police released the body-worn camera videos of a man accused of shooting a State Trooper in Springfield on New Year’s Eve.
According to a news release sent to 22News from Springfield Police Spokesman Ryan Walsh, officers responded to the 100 block of Nursery Street for a reported disturbance at around 11:20 p.m. on December 31, 2020. The ShotSpotter activation indicated more than 10 rounds of gunfire while officers were on their way to the area.
A Massachusetts State Trooper and Springfield Police Officer William Soto were first to arrive and saw the suspect, later identified as 31-year-old Christopher Gardner, exchange gunfire with another person in a parking lot at the intersection of Nursery and Stafford streets. Gardner saw the cruiser arrive and he allegedly began shooting at the Springfield and State Police cruisers. The first-arriving trooper was struck in the leg by gunfire. Officer Soto’s Springfield Police cruiser was also struck by gunfire. Officer Soto was not injured.
The body-camera footage shows officers searching for, locating and arresting the suspect. Gardner was arrested at five minutes and 45 seconds into the video footage by Springfield police officers.
“Officer Soto, who graduated from our Police Academy in 2020, remained calm and communicated clearly and effectively in a high-stress situation. He displayed excellent decision-making skills by utilizing the dumpsters in the parking lot as cover from the gunfire, and showed great instincts by attending to the injured trooper rather than engaging in a chase with the suspects, which could have resulted in a worse outcome,” said Springfield Police Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood. “The responding officers and troopers worked well together that night, and we are grateful for our continued partnership with the State Police. Calls such as this are unpredictable and can change significantly from second-to-second, putting officers’ lives in danger at a moment’s notice.”
Mayor Domenic J. Sarno stated, “I want to commend and acknowledge Officer Soto’s professionalism and efforts in not only responding to a dangerous situation of ‘shots fired’ but showing great calm and instincts by attending to the State Trooper who was shot. Like all of our brave and dedicated men and women in Blue, our Springfield Police Officers go above and beyond to protect and serve our community. This incident could have ended differently. The suspect in question had no regards for the lives of our responding officers as he opened fire, and he had no regards for the innocent bystanders that could have been caught in his crossfire. This disregard for human life is appalling and it is time we start holding these violent repeat criminals accountable for their actions before another innocent life is lost.”
Gardner is charged with the following:
- Armed assault with intent to murder (2 counts)
- Assault and battery by discharge of a firearm
- Assault with a dangerous weapon
- Unlawful possession of a firearm
- Discharging a firearm within 50 feet of a building