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Springfield police say officer needs more surgeries, will lose vision in one eye, after shooting

Springfield Police Department vehicle.
Elizabeth Román
FILE — Springfield Police Department vehicle.

The Springfield police have named the officer wounded in a shooting Wednesday night. Nestor Santos — a seven-year veteran of the department — was shot in the leg and face.

The police said Friday on Facebook that Santos still has a bullet fragment lodged in his head and will likely lose vision in one eye.

Santos was transferred to a Boston-area hospital, according to Police Superintendent Lawrence Akers.

"He has family with him. And Springfield Police Department will make sure that there are police officers there with him through this complete ordeal," Akers said in a Thursday briefing. "And we'll make sure that we take care of any family needs ... while they're down there, whether it be housing or just emotional support. We'll have police personnel there to help them with that."

The police department said on Friday that Santos has had one surgery and will likely need several more.

That prognosis does appear to be more serious than when Akers spoke Thursday. At that time, he said the officer's injuries were "serious, but we believe he's going to make it with no problems."

Santos was injured by gunfire Wednesday night while driving down State Street. The officer was not yet on duty, but was on his way to work, the department said.

Akers said the officer was one of several fired upon Wednesday night from suspects in multiple, heavily armed vehicles. He said it was not clear the shooters knew their targets were officers, who were travelling in unmarked vehicles.

"We think they may have believed that they were shooting at maybe their rivals," Akers said Thursday. "That's unsure right now. As you know, the investigation is very early. More will come out."

Police said a vehicle driven by a suspect struck two Massachusetts Department of Transportation workers, but the state agency said three members of a highway crew were injured.

"[They] did not sustain life-threatening injuries during the incident, however they all were transported to an area hospital," spokesperson Jacquelyn Goddard said. "MassDOT would like to thank First Responders for their immediate response to provide assistance on scene."

In his comments to reporters Thursday, Akers noted that Springfield police officers did not return fire.

"At a time when people think about the Springfield Police Department and our consent decree, and the first thing they think about is, 'Oh, that must be a really, really bad department,'" Akers said, referencing federal oversight following allegations of excessive force.

"I want you to think about the professionalism that my officers have," he continued. "Because it would've been very easy in many of these occasions to return fire, to take lives and be justified in doing it. So to people that are out there and that really don't know what it's like to be out here as a police officer, please think about that."

Mayor Domenic Sarno applauded the work of the officers Wednesday night and offered his "thoughts and prayers" to the officer and his family "for good health, speedy recovery and encouragement."

"This was a massive crime scene area, and I really have to commend our Springfield Police Department how quickly they were able to get this under control, able to take those seven guns off the streets, able to make these numerous, numerous arrests," Sarno said. "They've done their job. Again. I asked the court to some of the judges to do their job."

Sarno has repeatedly chastised judges in recent years for releasing people on bail who are facing gun charges. He's pushed for legislation to toughen bail requirements.

Nirvani Williams and Sam Hudzik contributed. Press conference audio provided by WAMC.

Updated: June 8, 2024 at 5:34 AM EDT
This story has been updated to include the officer's name and additional details about his condition, released by the police department Friday.
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