BOSTON – A Massachusetts police officer who was shot about 10 times with his own service weapon was described by community members on Monday as a loving and compassionate family man who had long aspired to be a police officer.
Weymouth Officer Michael Chesna and an innocent bystander, 77-year-old Vera Adams, were killed on Sunday. The man charged in their deaths, Emanuel Lopes, 20, will either be arraigned at his hospital bedside or in court, possibly Tuesday. His attorney had no immediate comment.
Police were responding to a report of a person driving erratically Sunday morning when they discovered a crashed BMW, said Norfolk District Attorney Michael Morrissey.
Chesna was trying to locate the driver of the vehicle, Morrissey said, when he spotted Lopes allegedly vandalizing a home. That's when Lopes hit Chesna in the head with a rock. Chesna fell to the ground, and Lopes took the officer's gun and repeatedly shot him, Morrissey said. According to a police report, Chesna was shot approximately five times in the head and five times in the torso and legs.
Another officer who had arrived at the scene shot Lopes in the leg. Lopes then fled and fired shots into a nearby home, killing Adams, Morrissey said.
Neighbors described Adams, a widow, as a quiet, generous spirit. Outside her simple, two-story home, mourners placed flowers, candles, balloons and an American flag.
During a vigil at Weymouth High School Monday night, Weymouth Police Chief Richard Grimes discussed the ongoing debate over use of force by police officers. He said, "hesitation gets officers hurt." Describing the moment when Lopes allegedly struck Chesna with a stone, he said, "The courts, the politicians and everyone in this country should put themselves in that split-second decision, and you tell me, 'is a rock a rock?' I stand here today and tell you it's not.'"
Chesna's mother thanked the community for its support, saying, "Michael would be so proud. I have never been prouder to be from Weymouth."
Chesna was a 42-year-old Iraq and Afghanistan war veteran who leaves behind a wife and two children, ages 9 and 4. He graduated from Weymouth High School in 1994 and attended Northeastern University, majoring in criminal justice. He met his wife while working at a bar in Quincy, using the money to pay for his education.
Grimes said Sunday he had spoken to Chesna's mother and she told him that her son joined the military "to open the doors to get in this job."
"He always had a kind word and a good attitude. We very much appreciated his service to the Weymouth Police Department," said Grimes.
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker said the killings show the dangers police can encounter at any moment.
"This is just a terrible tragedy and it's one that should remind us, if we need to be reminded, that the men and women in our law enforcement community every single day have the potential to walk into a life-threatening situation," Baker said.