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May 23, 2016 12:32 AM

Manhunt in police officer's slaying comes to violent end

The Associated Press

AUBURN, Mass. (AP) The man accused of killing a Massachusetts police officer during an early morning traffic stop was later shot to death after exchanging gunfire with police and wounding a state trooper, officials said.

The suspect, identified as 35-year-old Jorge Zambrano, burst out of a bedroom closet and opened fire on officers Sunday evening as they approached him inside a duplex apartment in Oxford, investigators said at a news conference. Oxford is about 7 miles south of Auburn, where the police officer was fatally shot hours earlier.

"The suspect appeared from inside a closet and fired on the troopers, striking one of them," said State Police Colonel Richard McKeon. "The STOP (State Police Special Tactical Operations) team returned fire and struck the suspect."

Zambrano, who authorities said had a criminal history, was taken to a hospital, where he died.

The injured trooper suffered a gunshot wound to his left shoulder and was scheduled to undergo surgery late Sunday night. He is an 18-year veteran and former U.S. Navy Seal. His name wasn't released.

"I'm extremely proud of the work done by every trooper and officer involved in today's investigation and tactical operation," said Massachusetts State Police Colonel Richard McKeon. "My pride is outweighed only by my sorrow for the Tarentino family and the Auburn police, and my concern over our injured trooper."

The violent end to the manhunt came nearly 18 hours after Officer Ronald Tarentino was shot dead by Zambrano during a traffic stop at about 12:30 a.m. Sunday in Auburn, authorities said.

The 42-year-old Tarentino was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead. He had been with the Auburn police force for two years, and before that worked with the Leicester Police Department in his hometown. He leaves behind a wife and three children.

Officials said Zambrano fled the scene after the shooting. They later learned that he was at the Oxford duplex and spotted what they believed was his vehicle parked behind the building. It remained unclear why Zambrano may have shot Tarentino or why he went to the duplex.

After the manhunt, officials assured Massachusetts residents that they were safe.

"The threat he (Zambrano) posed to our community is now over," Auburn Police Chief Andrew Sluckis said. "We now continue the process of speaking for Officer Tarentino by continuing to investigate all the facts and circumstances of his homicide. We owe his family a thorough accounting of everything that occurred."

State and local police officers lined up outside of the hospital Sunday as a police vehicle, escorted by a procession, took Tarentino's body to the state medical examiner's office in Boston, where the vehicle was met by another large contingent of officers.

Tarentino was the second police officer to die in the line of duty in Massachusetts this year. State police Trooper Thomas Clardy was killed March 16 when his cruiser was struck by another vehicle.

Outside the Auburn police station, the American flag was lowered to half-staff. The town's residents left bouquets of flowers and miniature American flags piled at the bottom of a stone monument dedicated to law enforcement officers who've been killed in the line of duty.


Associated Press writer Amy Anthony in Providence, Rhode Island, contributed to this report.


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