Cluster of violent crimes in Massachusetts leaves cops on high alert

Crime has taken a feverish turn this summer leaving experts puzzled, suggesting social isolation from the pandemic or copycat attacks could be behind the surge of random hostility.

One thing is sure, the bizarre string of hate has Bay State law enforcement officials on alert.

“It’s probably all coincidence,” Wakefield Police Chief Steven Skory said. “I certainly hope there’s an end to it. But we’ll never know what triggered all of these things unless you can crawl into the mind of the criminal. I wish I had the answers, but I don’t.”

Within the space of just over a month, the dramatic bulletins keep coming:

On June 4, two Braintree Police officers were shot and a police dog was killed while responding to a domestic 911 call at an apartment complex near where police ultimately killed the suspect after he “ambushed” them in the woods, authorities said.

Both officers were shot multiple times, Norfolk District Attorney Michael Morrissey said, and Kitt, a 12-year K-9 veteran of the force who went into the woods first, was killed.

Braintree Mayor Charles Kokoros said the suspect — later identified as Andrew Homen, 34, of Brockton — “fled into the woods,” where the incident turned into a firefight that left Homen dead. The suspect was “known to police,” with an arrest warrant out against him, authorities said.

On June 26 in Winthrop, Nathan Allen, 28, stole a semitrailer, crashed into an SUV and a building and then got out of the truck, wielding two pistols, and fatally shot retired state trooper David L. Green and Air Force Staff Sgt. Ramona Cooper before a Winthrop Police sergeant shot him to death, authorities said.

Suffolk District Attorney Rachael Rollins later released entries from Allen’s diary, which reads as an anti-Black manifesto.

On June 28 in Duxbury, a teenager was accused of drowning his father in a local pond. Jack Callahan, 19, authorities said, repeatedly “baptized” his 57-year-old dad “because he saw the ‘demon’ in his eyes.”

On July 3, 11 armed members of the Rise of the Moors militia group were arrested after an hours-long standoff with police on Interstate 95. The Rhode Island-based sect of “sovereign citizens” believes the laws of the state and country don’t apply to them, authorities said.

And on July 9, a man was arrested after he allegedly fired off several shots outside the MassHighway maintenance facility on Route 28 in Middleboro before running into the woods next to a 240-unit apartment complex.

The incident prompted local police to call in the Southeastern Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council, including a SWAT team, before the man, whose name has not yet been released, surrendered in the woods.

Summer usually brings an uptick in crime on Boston’s streets, but these flare-ups seem to have no bounds.

“No one ever talks about community policing in the suburbs,” said Emmett Folgert, program director of Safe City Dorchester at Mission Safe in Boston. ”But it’s just as important that people there feel they can talk to law enforcement and mental health professionals before something happens.”

Jack Levin, co-director of Northeastern University’s Brudnick Center on Violence, said it’s not unusual for violent events and other crimes to come in clusters.

“There’s often a copycat factor in cases of violence,” he said. “Not all of the cases have to be identical. But one violent event or crime can inspire another.”

Multiple things can trigger them, Levin said.

“We have seen increased divisiveness in the United States, putting Americans in certain groups at one another’s throats,” he said. “Social isolation due to COVID-19 also has been very stressful. And not being able to get a job, losing a job or some other catastrophic event can go beyond the stress or depression someone already feels.”

Whatever the reason, it’s turned into a tense summer.

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