Officials have released unnerving video that shows an armed suspect repeatedly pointing a firearm at police and bystanders as he leads officers on a foot chase through the streets of Springfield, Massachusetts.
Police say the "traumatic" incident started around 7:30 p.m. Sunday when the suspect -- identified as Jose Montanez, 43, of Springfield -- allegedly fired his gun multiple times. ShotSpotter technology alerted police to five rounds of gunfire, and crime analysts used the city's camera system to relay Montanez's location to responding officers.
When police arrived to the area, Montanez began to run away. In the video footage posted to YouTube, he can be seen running through the area of High Street, as he appears to smile while waving his gun in the air and pointing it over and over at police.
Two officers can be seen chasing after him down the street, backing off only when Montanez turns around and points the gun directly at them. At least six more cop cars are seen arriving on video as backup, with multiple officers getting out to assist in apprehending the suspect.
According to police, the responding officers noticed the gun's slide was locked in the rear, which typically indicates that a firearm is out of ammunition or unable to be fired unless the slide is moved forward. Officers did observe an additional magazine in Montanez's waistband, and Police Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood noted that reloading or moving the slide forward only takes a moment and likely would have had a much different end result for all involved.
Both the police commissioner and the mayor of Springfield commended officers for showing tremendous restraint in not firing their weapons, despite having a gun pointed at them many times during the pursuit.
"The outcome of this call is a huge credit to all of the officers on scene who showed incredible and courageous restraint in this situation, and, due to their keen observation during a fast-moving incident, were able to avoid an officer-involved shooting," Clapprood said in a statement. "The brazen actions of this suspect put in jeopardy the lives of our officers, several bystanders and himself and is an example of some of the most unpredictable, volatile and dangerous calls our officers respond to."
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Clapprood said the situation could have changed at any moment, and they are fortunate it ended as it did. Mayor Domenic Sarno agreed.
“After reviewing this most chilling video, these officers showed tremendous restraint in not firing their weapons in this foot chase to subdue this violent offender, who was firing off his gun and pointing it at officers numerous times," Sarno said in a statement. "Those officers and residents were put in harm’s way and a very traumatic situation – they could have been injured or, God forbid, killed. Is this what it is coming to?"
During the pursuit, Montanez can be seen on video dropping his gun at one point but immediately picking it up from the ground and continuing to evade officers.
The video ends with Montanez going out of the camera's view, at which time, police say he ran to the back of a high school on State Street where he allegedly tossed his firearm on school property before he was arrested without further incident.
Police did recover a second magazine in his waistband and say the firearm Montanez had was reported stolen out of Ludlow.
Montanez, who is well known to police, is facing a slew of charges following the incident. Those charges include carrying a firearm without a license, carrying a loaded firearm without a license, discharging a firearm within 500 feet of a building, two counts of assault with a dangerous weapon, carrying a dangerous weapon on school grounds, possession of ammunition without an FID card, receiving stolen property less than $1,200, and disturbing the peace.
There were no reports of injuries or property damage following the incident, police said. Officers did recover shell casings in the area and they are looking for additional evidence as they continue to investigate, though.
The Springfield Police Department said it will provide any additional support the officers may need. Those involved will go through a departmental debriefing.
Montanez is expected to be arraigned in Springfield District Court. It was not immediately clear if he has a lawyer who can speak to the charges on his behalf.
The mayor made it clear he hopes the court will hold Montanez accountable.
"Our courts are holding no one accountable, especially repeat violent criminal offenders who are allowed to run roughshod on our streets and neighborhoods, while our brave and dedicated men and women in blue risk their lives with arrest, after arrest, after arrest to keep all our residents and business community safe," Sarno said. "Now the big question – will our courts hold him or just ‘pat him on the head’ and release him right back to our streets and in our neighborhoods?"