Sergeants John MacLellan and Jeffrey Pugliese and Officer Joseph Reynolds

(Watertown Police Department, Massachusetts)

On April 18, 2013, officers of the Watertown Police Department in Massachusetts were advised that a Massachusetts Institute of a Technology (MIT) Police Officer had been shot and killed in the neighboring city of Cambridge. Shortly after roll call in the early morning hours of April 19, a “be on the lookout” radio transmission was issued regarding an armed carjacking.

Minutes later, a second transmission informed officers that the carjacked Mercedes had been traced via the vehicle’s location services to a location in Watertown. Officer Joseph Reynolds radioed that he spotted the stolen Mercedes. At this time, the officers believed the incident involved a “routine” carjacking; they were unaware that they were about to encounter suspects who were responsible for killing three people and injuring more than 260 people days earlier during the Boston Marathon.

Sergeant John MacLellan responded to the area to assist Officer Reynolds in conducting a stop of the stolen vehicle. As he arrived, he observed the Mercedes making a left-hand turn with Officer Reynolds following behind. Before Officer Reynolds could activate his emergency lights, the Mercedes came to a sudden stop and a suspect exited the vehicle and immediately advanced toward Officer Reynolds. The suspect began firing rounds at Officer Reynolds who then placed his vehicle in reverse attempting to get out of the line of fire.

As Sergeant MacLellan rounded the corner, a bullet pierced his windshield, showering glass in his face and nearly striking him in the left ear. The suspect fired additional rounds into Sergeant MacLellan’s vehicle. Sergeant MacLellan attempted to retrieve his patrol rifle but could not because of the barrage of gunfire. He then placed his cruiser into drive and exited it with the intention that the cruiser would travel toward the suspects and draw attention away from Officer Reynolds and himself.  

As the cruiser began to slowly crawl forward, both Sergeant MacLellan and Officer Reynolds used it as cover as they advanced on the suspects. Within seconds an improvised explosive device (IED) was tossed by one of the suspects at the officers. The bomb bounced and rolled along the pavement landing a short distance from the officers. The officers were pinned down by gunfire and unable to retreat, but they shielded themselves with the rolling cruiser and were unharmed by the bomb’s blast, which was so intense that the windows of Sergeant MacLellan’s vehicle were blown out.  

Officer Reynolds moved for cover in a residential yard as Sergeant MacLellan took cover behind a nearby tree, which he reasoned would allow him to continue to engage the suspects. Both suspects continued to fire on the officers and toss IEDs, one of which landed only a few feet from Sergeant MacLellan. Though Sergeant MacLellan was exposed to the explosive concussion and debris of some of the detonating devices, he remained unharmed and continued to engage both suspects. At this time, additional Watertown Police Officers arrived on the scene and became engaged in this incident.

Sergeant MacLellan, who was out of ammunition by this point, began shouting at the man to surrender. Suddenly, Sergeant Jeffrey Pugliese appeared from out of a residential driveway and tackled the suspect to the ground. Assuming that the man had an additional IED in his possession, Sergeant MacLellan shouted to Sergeant Pugliese to back away. But when Sergeant Pugliese continued his attempt to handcuff the suspect, who continued to resist, Sergeant MacLellan and Officer Reynolds left their positions of cover and assisted Sergeant Pugliese in securing the suspect.

As the officers struggled with the first suspect, the second suspect entered the stolen Mercedes and accelerated toward them. Sergeants MacLellan and Pugliese and Officer Reynolds jumped clear of the speeding vehicle as this second suspect ran over the first suspect. The second suspect continued to flee in the vehicle, dragging the body of the first suspect for a distance.

Shortly after the initial shooting and explosions, it was confirmed that the suspects were wanted in connection with the Boston Marathon Bombing and the murder of the MIT Police Officer. If not for the brave actions of Sergeants MacLellan and Pugliese and Officer Reynolds, along with a number of other officers on scene, more people may have been killed or injured.

Press Releases