SPRINGFIELD — A veteran city police officer responding to a domestic incident was fatally shot this afternoon by a New York corrections officer who then critically wounded his girlfriend and apparently killed himself, authorities said.
Kevin Ambrose, a 36-year member of the force, responded to 90 Lawton St. to assist Charlene Mitchell, 29. Ambrose met outside with Mitchell and Shawn Bryan, 35, of Hempstead, N.Y., a Rikers Island corrections officer, Springfield Police Commissioner William J. Fitchet said at a news conference.
After a brief conversation with the couple but before other officers arrived, Ambrose went upstairs to Mitchell’s apartment with them. At the door of the apartment, Bryan shoved Mitchell inside and went inside with her, shutting out Ambrose, Fitchet said.
As Ambrose tried to gain entry, Bryan shot him through the door, hitting him once. Bryan opened the door and shot Ambrose again, Fitchet said.
Bryant then shot Mitchell, left the apartment, and proceeded to his own car, where he shot himself in the chest, Fitchet said.
Ambrose had worked for two years as a police cadet, in addition to his years on the force, meaning he had served the city for 38 years, Fitchet said. Ambrose leaves behind a wife, two children, and one granddaughter, he said.
Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno said at the news conference, “We grieve this remarkable officer. The whole city mourns the loss of Officer Kevin Ambrose.”
He said the city extends “the deepest sympathy” to Ambrose’s family and the incident “shows the perils that our men and women in blue face every day.”
Hampden District Attorney Mark Mastroianni said, “He served as a hero. ... His actions today made him a hero. He will remain in our thoughts always.”
At the Lawton Street apartment complex this evening, blood stained the walls of the stairwells inside the apartment building, and a large pool of blood was visible outside Mitchell’s apartment on the third floor.
A first-floor tenant, Desiree Romero, 44, said she heard about six shots before Mitchell’s aunt knocked on her door in tears.
“She was saying ‘The cop got shot,’” and that Mitchell and her baby were still upstairs, Romero said.
Romero said she later saw Ambrose lying in the third-floor hallway with gunshot wounds, and he could not speak. “I think he was [getting] ready to die,” she said.
Romero also said she later saw police carrying Mitchell’s infant daughter downstairs, and that the child had blood all over her face. She said she did not know Mitchell and that she was shaken by the shootings.
“It’s crazy,” Romero said. “Can’t be safe nowhere.”
Another neighbor of Mitchell’s, Lisa Granger, said her 20-year-old son Anthony, who lives with her, was home at the time of the shootings and called her when they occurred.
“He was a little nervous when he called,” Granger said. She said she did not know Mitchell, and that the complex is generally quiet.
“I’m just really sad that a police officer didn’t make it,” Granger said. She described Ambrose as a long-time family friend.
“It’s just an excellent family,” she said.
The property manager for the building said in a telephone interview that the complex is generally peaceful.
“This is a very rare occasion,’’ said the manager, who would not identify herself by name.
Between 90 to 100 tenants live in the four buildings that make up the complex, she said.