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Solemn rites for officer who gave all

Woburn chief says robber fired first

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By Peter Schworm
Globe Staff / January 1, 2011

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WILMINGTON — Hundreds upon hundreds of mourners gathered yesterday for the funeral of slain policeman John Maguire, who was tenderly recalled as a devoted family man and dedicated professional who died protecting his community.

Those who knew Maguire remembered the mischievous gleam in his eye, his sharp sense of humor, and his keen sense of duty to colleagues and the public at large.

“He gave his life for the city of Woburn and the citizens,’’ Woburn Police Chief Philip Mahoney said in a touching eulogy to the 60-year-old police veteran and father of three.

Maguire was killed Sunday while responding to an armed robbery, allegedly at the hands of a career criminal free on parole, sparking widespread public criticism of the man’s release.

Providing new details about the deadly encounter, Mahoney said Maguire returned fire outside a department store as he pursued suspect Dominic Cinelli, who fired the first shot while trying to escape.

“That night, Jack Maguire stood up,’’ Mahoney said at the service, held at an auditorium in Wilmington. “As far as I’m concerned, this man was running into the neighborhoods. And Jack Maguire stopped that man.’’

Cinelli, who was freed in early 2009, was also killed in the shootout. He had a lengthy criminal record for armed robberies and assaults and had been in and out of prison since 1976.

Mahoney told mourners that Maguire was the second officer on the scene and was warned by radio that the suspect was armed. As Maguire exited his cruiser, Cinelli fired at him, Mahoney said.

“The first shot was fired, not by Jack,’’ he said. “Jack would never hurt anyone, he wouldn’t. He was just that way.’’

Several more shots were fired between them, Mahoney said, before they both fell to the ground.

“I have a hard time going through this in my mind,’’ said Mahoney. “You can imagine what the officers on the scene are going through. They’re going through so much suffering. They’re all here for the love of Jack Maguire.’’

Anne Decubellis, Maguire’s cousin, told the assembly that she heard Maguire’s name on the police scanner that night and listened in horror as the confrontation unfolded.

“I heard the whole thing,’’ she said. “I heard ‘Officer Maguire’ and I just started pacing. . . . You’re just helpless inside . . . when something like this happens to someone you love.’’

In a moving eulogy, she remembered that as a little boy, Maguire had a spark all his own and a “sense of humor like you wouldn’t believe.’’ He would be touched by the outpouring of grief over his death and support for his family, she said.

“I hope Jack is watching over this beautiful tribute,’’ she said.

Mourners, who included US Senator Scott Brown and Governor Deval Patrick, called Maguire a compassionate lawman who could defuse tense situations before they escalated and a good friend who could be counted on.

“He was always there for everybody,’’ Jim Day, 72, said as he watched the honor guards lining the roadside more than an hour before the funeral procession passed.

Day, a close family friend, said Maguire’s family is heartbroken, and enraged at Cinelli’s release.

“They are very concerned, as naturally they would be,’’ he said.

Before the funeral, a long line of officers stood ramrod-straight in their dress uniforms with white gloves clasped behind their backs to greet the procession. A deep silence reigned, except for the distant chopping of the blades of a news helicopter. The officers then marched into the auditorium for the service, filling row after row of seats.

The Rev. Marsha Heydenreich told mourners Maguire led a life “full of light and love’’ and much laughter. The twinkle in his eye, she said, was familiar to everyone who knew him.

On the job, he was driven by a sense of purpose, she said.

“He, with his brothers and sisters in public safety, was a force of stability in our world, a world that is very much beset in brokenness,’’ she said.

“That’s the path that Jack chose, and he chose his path well,’’ she said.

Martin Finucane of the Globe staff and Globe correspondent Jeff Fish contributed to this report. Peter Schworm can be reached at schworm@globe.com.