A fatal shooting in Winthrop, Massachusetts, left a community mourning the loss of two Black lives.
Retired police officer David Green and Air Force veteran Ramona Cooper were killed in a shooting that is being investigated as a hate crime.
On Saturday, authorities say 28-year-old white Winthrop resident Nathan Allen stole a box car and smashed it into another vehicle, leaving several injured before crashing it into a house. Paulo Correia, a witness to the scene, encountered the gunman moments before the shooting occurred.
Correia says he was with his 15-year-old son when a man in a white T-shirt approached Correia’s car and climbed into the back seat instructing him to drive. Believing Allen was injured and needed help, Correia asked the man to get out of the car and thought the man should get an ambulance.
“Then he said something which makes my blood run cold when I remember it. He says, ‘Don’t you think the world has gotten a little weird now?’ and I’m thinking to myself this kid definitely hit his head. He is not thinking straight. He needs help,” Correia recalls.
After Allen complied with Correia's request to get out of the vehicle, Correia says from the rearview mirror of his car, he witnessed Allen lift his T-shirt, grab a black handgun and shoot a pedestrian. The bystander shot was Ramona Cooper — the first of Allen’s two victims.
“I hear a pop — at this point I’m in immediate flight mode,” Correia says. “I’m maneuvering through the debris field on the road and I hear more pops behind me.”
The gunman walked down another block where he shot the second victim, David Green, who had been a resident of Winthrop his entire life.
Correia's son was in the front seat cowering. When Correia attempted to escape the crime scene, bystanders on the road yelled at him to stop. They assumed Correia was the getaway driver because the shooter had just exited his vehicle.
“I thank my lucky stars my son did not see the shooting,” he says. “As soon as I heard that first pop, immediately I knew we needed to get out here.”
When he was outside the line of fire, Correia says he warned all the pedestrians on the streets about the shooting and drove directly to the Winthrop police station.
Allen came across several other people on the street who were white and were not killed. Suffolk District Attorney Rachael Rollins says investigators combing through Allen’s house found white supremacist and anti-Semitic rhetoric in a notebook with his handwriting. Rollins speculated Allen could have been headed to Jewish temples near the scene of the shooting.
“It’s sickening, it breaks my heart, it’s hard for me to fathom that anyone would have so much hatred,” Correia says. “If this can happen here in Winthrop, it can happen anywhere.”
Winthrop is a very white town, Correia says, but he personally has not experienced this level of hate. He urges his neighbors and all those affected by the violence to stay strong through this difficult time.
“If you care for people and you have a little love in your heart, there is nothing we can’t get through together,” he says. “I’m not going to let this hatred ruin my life.”
He hopes this tragedy encourages people to speak out against anti-Semitism, racism and violence. People need to come together and speak up to stop these devastating events, he says.
“There is a lot of love in Winthrop and everywhere,” Correia says. “I’m so grateful that there are so many helpers in my life and in my community.”
Editor's note: An earlier version of this story included a misspelling of Paulo Correia's name. We regret the error.
This segment aired on July 1, 2021.