District attorney probes number of bullets fired in shootout with police that left Brockton man dead

A “significant number” of shots were exchanged between police and an armed robbery suspect during a multi-town police chase that ended with the accused robber being fatally wounded in East Bridgewater Monday, a top prosecutor said today.

Cape and Islands District Attorney Michael O’Keefeis overseeing the investigation into the use of deadly force on Monday that resulted in the death of Jeffrey P. Watts, a 46-year-old Brockton man.

Watts’s relatives could not be reached for comment today.

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According to O’Keefe, Watts entered a CVS store in Brockton armed with a shotgun Monday afternoon and demanded “any and all opiates.’’

After he left the store, Watts allegedly started shooting at police with the shotgun and continued to shoot at police as they pursued him through the heart of Brockton, south into Whitman and then about 300 yards into East Bridgewater where a final confrontation took place on Thatcher Street.

Area residents said Monday they heard upwards of 30 shots being fired when police and Watts confronted each other on Thatcher Street. O’Keefe said one issue under investigation is whether Watts had a second weapon or only a single weapon, the shotgun.

O’Keefe said one goal of his investigation is to determine how many rounds were fired and where along the pursuit the shots were exchanged.

“There were several different locations that gunfire was exchanged,’’ he said. “There was a significant number of rounds fired during the course of this event. We are doing our best to account for each and every one of them. It’s going to take some time to do that.’’

Brockton and State Police were involved in the chase. East Bridgewater Police Chief John E. Cowan said today that the incident happened so quickly and took place at such a remote corner of the rural town that it was over by the time he and his officers arrived.

O’Keefe is handling the investigation at the request of Plymouth District Attorney Timothy J. Cruz who wanted to avoid the appearance of bias because one of the state troopers involved in the deadly force case is assigned to his office.

Brockton Mayor Linda M. Balzotti declined to discuss the incident, which included a Brockton police officer being struck by a projectile during the pursuit and gunfire. But Balzotti offered her view on the way Brockton police handled the incident.

“I’m very proud of the officers that were invovled in this whole situation,’’ she said in a telphone interview. “I’m just very grateful that no officer and no bystander was injured.’’

“I feel badly that a situation transpired like that,’’ she said. “I’m sure there was probably a lot of desperation on his part to do something that is very sad.”