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Suspect In Shooting Death Of Auburn Officer Dies In Shootout With State Police

Massachusetts State Police Col. Richard McKeon speaks to reporters about a shootout that ensued between troopers and the suspect in the shooting death of Auburn police officer early Sunday. (Steve Brown/WBUR)
Massachusetts State Police Col. Richard McKeon speaks to reporters about a shootout that ensued between troopers and the suspect in the shooting death of Auburn police officer early Sunday. (Steve Brown/WBUR)
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A suspect in the shooting death of an Auburn police officer has died in a shootout with the Massachusetts State Police after an hours-long manhunt, officials said in a press conference Sunday evening.

Speaking to reporters at around 7 p.m., State Police Col. Rick McKeon said the suspect, 35-year-old Jorge Zambrano, of Worcester, was discovered hiding inside a duplex on Watch Street in Oxford shortly after 6 p.m.

As officers searched the second floor, Zambrano emerged from a closet, opening fire on officers in an apparent attempt to "ambush" them, McKeon said. Troopers returned fire, killing Zambrano.

Jorge Zambrano (Massachusetts State Police via AP)
Jorge Zambrano (Massachusetts State Police via AP)

A state trooper, who was shot in the shoulder during the shootout, is expected to survive, McKeon said, adding that the trooper is an 18-year veteran and former Navy Seal.

Worcester District Attorney Joseph Early said Zambrano had a long criminal history, including several prison sentences.

The shootout took place about 4 miles from where 42-year-old Auburn Officer Ronald Tarentino was shot and killed at around 12:30 a.m. Sunday, during a traffic stop on Rochdale Street in Auburn.

As of 7:30 p.m., investigators remained at the scene of the shootout and were attempting to locate the weapon that killed Tarentino.


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Auburn Officer Ronald Tarentino (Massachusetts State Police via Facebook)
Auburn Officer Ronald Tarentino (Massachusetts State Police via Facebook)

An Auburn police officer was shot and killed early Sunday in the central Massachusetts town, and authorities are searching for the suspect, officials said.

At a press conference at noon on Sunday, authorities said 42-year-old Ronald Tarentino Jr. was shot after he pulled over a vehicle at around 12:30 a.m. on Rochdale Street. The shooter fled the scene in a vehicle, officials said.

Tarentino was transported to UMass Medical Center in Worcester, where he was pronounced dead, Auburn Police Chief Andrew Sluckis Jr. told reporters. His body was taken by police escort from the hospital to the state Medical Examiner's Office in Boston.

Tarentino joined the Auburn police force two years ago after transferring from the Leicester Police Department. He leaves behind a wife and three children.

"We are devastated for his family," Sluckis said. "The residents of Auburn have lost a dedicated and brave public servant."

Auburn police, Worcester police, state police and the Worcester County district attorney's office are investigating the shooting.

"In order to protect the integrity of that ongoing investigation, we will not release any details about it at this time," Sluckis said.

Phil Berthiaume, who lives in the neighborhood near where the shooting took place, said he heard the gunfire.

"We heard rapid-fire gunshots," he said. "Initially, I thought it was fireworks. It was very loud." He added that typically, there are "never any problems" in his neighborhood.

Steve Brown Twitter Senior Reporter/Anchor
Steve Brown is a veteran broadcast journalist who serves as WBUR's senior State House reporter.

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