'Chilling' video: Man runs around pointing gun at officers, bystanders

Springfield's police commissioner praised officers for showing "incredible and courageous restraint"

By Jeanette DeForge

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — A 43-year-old man was arrested Sunday night, accused of firing about five rounds from a stolen gun and then threatening Springfield police officers and bystanders with it as he tried to run away.

The police department’s Real-Time Analysis Center released video footage from city cameras on Monday showing the encounter before the arrest. During the 3-minute footage, a man can be seen repeatedly waving the gun near 100 High St. where at least five people were walking. He then turned the gun toward police when they arrived, said Ryan Walsh, police spokesman.

No one was injured.

Jose Montanez, of Springfield, was arrested on nine charges including two counts of assault with a dangerous weapon, carrying a loaded firearm without a license, carrying a dangerous weapon on school grounds and possession of a firearm and ammunition without a license, Walsh said.

At about 7:25 p.m., the ShotSpotter system picked up five gunshots on the 100 block of High Street. The camera then showed a suspect waving a gun around as two males walked away and a third confronted him. At that point, a police cruiser arrived.

“When officers arrived Montanez began fleeing,” Walsh said. “But (he) continued to point his firearm in the direction of officers and bystanders. Responding officers immediately observed that the firearm’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.”

Police could see he was carrying an additional magazine for ammunition in his waistband, Walsh said.

At least two officers chased the man as he ran away. Several times he turned around, running backwards, and is accused of continuing to point the gun. At one point he dropped the gun but picked it back up, the footage showed.

Soon after, at least a half-dozen officers arrived to assist, and they all moved outside range of the camera.

“Montanez continued evading officers,” Walsh said. “He ran to the back of the High School of Commerce on State Street where he allegedly tossed his firearm on school property before being taken into custody by responding officers without further incident.”

The gun, which was recovered by officers, was reportedly stolen out of Ludlow, Walsh said.

“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,” Springfield Police Commissioner Cheryl C. Clapprood said.

“Reloading or moving the slide forward only takes a moment and likely would have had a much different end result,” she said. “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. This situation could have changed at any moment, and we are fortunate it ended as it did.”

Montenez has had previous encounters with police, Walsh said. He was scheduled to appear in Springfield District Court on Monday but information about his arraignment was not available.

“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 at officer’s numerous times,” Mayor Domenic J. 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? 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. 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.”

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