Police checking on a speech therapist's wellbeing found her dead in the basement of her home in Wakefield, Massachusetts, where her son charged police officers investigating the home armed with a knife, prosecutors said Tuesday.
The officers shot the 23-year-old man, who remains in intensive care after surgery at a local hospital, Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan said at a news conference hours after the incident took place.
The woman, identified as 61-year-old Pamela Wood, was "obviously deceased" when firefighters who entered the home with the officers discovered her body. She had "multiple traumatic injuries," some of which seemed consistent with the knife that the man, Timothy Martin, wielded on officers.
Shortly after Wood's body was discovered, Martin "emerged from a corner of the basement, running at the officers in possession of a knife that he was holding above his head," Ryan said. "Constrained by the small quarters in the basement and the suspect refusing to put down the knife at their command, two Wakefield officers discharged their weapons, striking Mr. Martin."
Martin, who didn't live at the home and wasn't known to be there, is expected to be charged later Thursday, Ryan said.
Police were called to the home on Otis Street Tuesday morning around 10 a.m. after Wood failed to appear for an appointment with a student, Ryan said. Her family was contacted, but they didn't have a key to get into the building when they went to check on her, so they contacted police. A school resource officer also went to the home.
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Wood worked as a speech therapist for the local public school system, according to Ryan.
"Pam and I have worked together for about 30 years," said Robin Litwalk, who shared an office with Wood. "She was a great therapist. The kids loved her, the parents loved her, she was just great."
"Pretty scary. It's such a quiet neighborhood, and stuff like this doesn't happen in Wakefield," said Stacey Sawtelle, who works nearby.
Martin, who lives in Manchester, New Hampshire, has no prior criminal records or history of known mental illness, according to Ryan, and Wakefield Police Chief Steven Skory said there was no history of domestic violence at the home.
"It's just too bad it came to this, because she cared deeply about her son," said Litwalk. "She worried about him a lot."
"Very devoted mother," Litwalk added. "She was very devoted to her son."
Skory emphasized that there is no threat to the community at large.
Five of his officers were taken to the hospital for stress management, he said.
Wood worked at the Greenwood School and Doyle Early Childhood Center, where she was beloved, Wakefield Public Schools Superintendent Douglas Lyons said in a statement Tuesday evening.
"She will be missed by students, families and staff alike. Our hearts go out to her family during this tremendously difficult time," he said, adding that counseling and other resources will be made available to students and staff.