The 16 officers on the street for January’s hate-crime spree by alleged killer Keith Luke were honored by at the Massachusetts Police Association on Thursday. The same group honored five other Brockton police officers for their actions in a separate incident.
Like all urban police forces, this city’s officers are accustomed to racing to shooting scenes and facing down armed men who may be intent on violence.
But on Jan. 21, Brockton police and a state trooper encountered an alleged crime that took their jobs to another level.
On that winter afternoon, two people were gunned down and a third was wounded on a quiet street, then police were led on a wild chase across the city as more shots were fired. The pursuit ended with a stand-off in a second neighborhood as bullets flew and bystanders ducked for cover.
And suspect Keith Luke, according to authorities, indicated after his arrest that his violent rampage had been fueled by hatred of “nonwhites” — and if he had not been caught, he had planned to end the day by killing people gathered for bingo at a city Jewish temple.
On Thursday, the 15 Brockton police officers and a state trooper who responded to that crime spree were recognized by their peers for their heroic actions.
The Massachusetts Police Association awarded the Medal of Merit at a ceremony in Springfield to the officers involved in capturing Luke, the accused killer now in jail awaiting trial.
The recipients were Brockton police Lt. Robert Sergio, Brockton officers William Devine, James Cronshaw, Kevin Amaral, Antonio Randolph, Scott Beserick, Stanley David, Michael Bunker, Mark Reardon, Anthony Giardini, Robert Grayson, John Lonergan, Jackie Congdon, Michael Schaaf, Jennifer Polynice and State Trooper Robert Fries.
According to a letter from the police association to Brockton’s police chief, “the Medal of Merit is presented yearly to police officers from around the state who have demonstrated courage beyond the call of duty, dedication to duty and true professionalism.”
“They are true heroes,” said City Councilor-at-large Robert Sullivan, who applauded the officers for their work and the Massachusetts Police Association for the recognition.
“As tragic as it was, thank God to Brockton’s finest for apprehending this criminal,” added Sullivan.
Lt. John Crowley, chief of detectives, said the whole shift came together to provide the resources needed that day.
“When they showed up for work that day, they never could have imagined what was to happen,” said Crowley.
“They were able to stand up to the challenge and arrest Luke without additional loss of life. The whole shift collectively came together,” said Crowley. “We used every resource we had.”
He said it was something that most officers never encounter in their careers.
“A job well done,” said Crowley.
Although no officers were injured, it was a close call for at least one who successfully dodged one of the bullets fired that day.
During the chase after the deadly shooting on Clinton Street, the suspect allegedly shot out the window, hitting the windshield of a police cruiser and lodging in the headrest next to officer Devine, according to Crowley.
“I can’t even tell you how close it was to hitting him in the head,” said Crowley.
On Thursday, five other Brockton officers received the Medal of Valor from the state police association in connection with the shooting of a suspect: Officers William Carpenter, Keith Shanks, Matthew Graham, Michael Scanlon and Charles Jarrett.
This award was given in connection with a case last November when a man pulled out a gun on police, pointed it at officers and was then shot to death. Police were trying to arrest him in connection with an earlier suspected drug deal one block away.
“The Medal of Valor is presented yearly to police officers from around the state who have risked their lives in the line of duty and demonstrated courage and true professionalism,” the police association letter said.
Elaine Allegrini can be reached at email@example.com.