Escapee charged in police shooting

1 man killed in Springfield

A paramedic examined the baby that police say was in the back seat of the car when yesterday’s shooting occurred. The 6-month-old girl was not hurt. A paramedic examined the baby that police say was in the back seat of the car when yesterday’s shooting occurred. The 6-month-old girl was not hurt. (Don Treeger/The Republican)
By John M. Guilfoil
Globe Staff / May 1, 2011

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The man who shot four people in Springfield yesterday, including two police officers, had escaped from prison to avenge the shooting of his mother, police said.

Since Tamik Kirkland went missing from MCI Shirley on Monday, he allegedly took part in at least three shootings, including one yesterday in which he is accused of shooting two people — one fatally — in a barbershop and later shooting two officers who had tracked him down.

According to police, the shootings in the barbershop and others throughout the week were part of a revenge plot. Kirkland, 24, who was eligible for parole next February, escaped from the minimum-security wing of MCI Shirley after learning that his mother had been wounded in a double shooting April 23.

“Kirkland is suspected to be responsible for several shootings this week in Springfield,’’ said Springfield police Sergeant John Delaney in a statement.

At around noon yesterday, Kirkland allegedly walked into Bill Brown’s House of Beauty, Barber Shop and Supply on State Street and shot two people, Dela ney said.

One of the victims, identified by State Police as Sheldon R. Innocent, 24, of Wilbraham, died. The other victim, a 48-year-old barber whose name was not released, was in critical condition.

Police are investigating how the victims in yesterday’s shooting may be connected to the shooting of Kirkland’s mother.

Acting on a tip from a 911 caller, two plainclothes Springfield police officers responded to a duplex on Burr Street, where a running car was backed into the driveway. They called for backup, and a nearby state trooper came. As they approached, a man dived into the trunk of the car.

Police blocked the car from leaving and took the driver, an unidentified woman, into custody. When they opened the trunk, Kirkland popped out and opened fire on the officers, police said.

The state trooper and one of the local officers were each shot once in the chest before they returned fire, police said.

Kirkland was shot several times. Police said he was in serious condition at Baystate Medical Center last night.

The injured Springfield officer was identified as Raul Gonzalez, a 15-year veteran of the force. The state trooper was not named. The officers were wearing bullet-proof vests and were not seriously injured, said David Procopio, a State Police spokesman.

“The state trooper was struck directly over his heart,’’ Procopio said. “The vest absorbed the bullet and saved his life, most likely.’’

The incident happened so fast, police said, that the officers did not realize that a 6-month-old girl was in the back seat of the car during the shooting. The girl was not harmed.

State Police said last night that Kirkland had forced his way into the woman’s home as he was fleeing the barbershop scene.

The news of his mother’s shooting sheds some light on why an inmate with as little as 10 months left on his sentence would risk additional prison time by escaping. Kirkland was discovered missing from the Department of Correction prison in Shirley at 7:35 a.m. Monday. He had been serving 2 1/2 to 4 years and was being held in the lowest-security section of the medium-security prison.

According to Diane Wiffin, a spokeswoman for DOC, a preliminary investigation showed that Kirkland fashioned a dummy in his bed to evade a head count as he walked away from the facility. One staff member at the prison has been put on paid leave over the incident, Wiffin said.

Kirkland had been the subject of a massive local, state, and federal manhunt.

Governor Deval Patrick, in Wisconsin to address state Democrats, said he spoke with the trooper who was shot and was trying to reach the Springfield officer.

“Fortunately, they did their job, they were wearing their equipment, and as I said to him, ‘I’m just so glad you’re alive,’ ’’ the governor said.

“I’m glad this guy has been apprehended, and I’m asking a number of questions about how he got away in the first place.’’

Kirkland served jail time in 2003 on charges of intent to distribute cocaine and carrying firearms. He had attained a measure of success as an independent record producer before he was arrested in July 2008 on further gun and drug charges stemming from a shooting on State and Andrew streets in Springfield, according to the Republican newspaper of Springfield.

Kirkland is also known as the recording artist Matik and is the owner of the recording company Ahnesty Records.

“All the while trying to break into the industry, Matik was also in the streets, living the lifestyle that mainly leads to death or jail,’’ a biography on the Ahnesty Records website reads. It says Kirkland learned from his first stint in jail that life as a prisoner was a dead end. He became a father and started his record label to find new direction in life.

Police contend that Kirkland is a member of a street gang. Yesterday’s shooting occurred on State Street, in the same area as the 2008 shooting that landed him in Shirley.

“Kirkland has a long history of arrests with the Springfield Police Department,’’ Delaney said in a statement. “He is a known gang member.’’

Kirkland is in joint DOC and Springfield Police custody. He was charged last night with murder, three counts of armed assault with intent to murder, armed home invasion, three counts of assault with a dangerous weapon, and illegal possession of a firearm, second offense.

Glen Johnson of the Globe Staff, and Globe correspondents Matt Byrne and Miriam Valverde contributed to this report. John M. Guilfoil can be reached at