By: T0m Duggan – November, 2010
When Lawrence police got an anonymous tip that a man with a gun in his waistband had just left Bali’s, a nightclub on Essex Street, there were only seven patrolmen protecting the city of more than 80,000 people. The caller told police that the man got into a black Land Rover and even told police the license plate number as it sped away from the scene.
Two of those one-man cruisers patrolling the city were within a block or two of the nightclub and rushed to the scene but arrived seconds too late as the Land Rover was nowhere to be found.
Within less than a minute, however, the Black Land Rover they were warned about pulled back onto Essex Street towards the same night club.
“I’ve got him,” Officer Dave Levesque said over the police radio as another cruiser arrived at the scene.
The driver of the truck was on foot fleeing the scene as Officer Levesque chased him. Two other suspects, one in the passenger’s seat and the other in the back seat surrendered immediately as Officer Levesque captured and subdued the driver and brought him back to the scene.
In less than two minutes, five of the seven officers patrolling the city were on Essex Street searching the vehicle, pulling out a large speaker system from the back of the truck, and meticulously looking though ever crevice of the interior.
“I’ve got nothing” one officer said from the back compartment. Officer’s PJ Lopez and Tim Dube climbed into the back seat and began checking the door panels, between the seats and eventually an open space inside the roof of the truck.
“We got em!” one officer yelled as two dark objects fell from the interior roof.
When officers unwrapped the objects they discovered two weapons, a .40 caliber and a .45 caliber Rugar concealed by ski masks. Officers also discovered a cache of ammunition wrapped in plastic “looks like drugs” one officer said before correcting himself. “Bullets” he announced as he unwrapped the plastic.
“Look at these things,” Officer Chris Bussey said, unloading a full clip of what another officer called “cop killer” bullets. “No round in the chamber, but these clips are full. If he shot at us with this one,” Officer Raso said to one of his colleagues, “these bullets would have gone right through our vests. We got lucky tonight. If these guys had shot [at us] someone would be dead.”
Court documents identified the driver of the Land Rover as 23 year old Jonathan Walker, of Boston, the suspect in the passenger’s side of the vehicle as 23 year old Rolando Dominguez of New Hampshire and the back seat passenger as 42 year old Lawrence resident Jaime Morales Ruiz.
A source at Lawrence District Court said that the FBI positively identified the suspects even though they had given fake names while being booked at the police station.
“Police officers in Massachusetts are required to wear the vest to the gun they are carrying,” a court officer told the Valley Patriot. “Lawrence police carry .40 caliber handguns, so the bullets in that .45 caliber gun they confiscated would have gone right through their vests.”
Another court source confirmed that the .45 caliber Rugar was stolen out of Dover NH. All three suspects were charged jointly with; carrying concealed weapons, possession of a stolen firearm, possession of a high capacity magazine, illegal possession of a hand gun, illegal possession of ammunition, carrying concealed weapon, possession burglar tools, and approximately a dozen other charges including driving without a license for the driver of the vehicle.
One of the suspects had warrants out of Virginia while another had three pending gun charges in Massachusetts when he was arrested.
“These guys have obviously been through the system a number of times,” on source told The Valley Patriot, asking not to be identified for fear of retribution from his superiors.
“None of them cooperated, they all gave us fake names and haven’t said a word since.” Officers at the scene were heard saying to each other that they “very likely saved someone’s life tonight.”
“These guys were up to no good, they left the front of the club, got in the car and came back to the scene, you don’t do that unless you are casing a club or targeting someone,” another officer agreed.
“Hey, this was a home invasion or a car jacking in the making. Who knows what they had planned, robbing one of the clubs or maybe targeting someone inside but our friend here,” he said pointing to one of the suspects, “is going away for a long time.”
“The problem,” another officer added, “is that the caller who tipped us off didn’t want to be identified and hung up before we could get their name. That could be a problem in court later on, I just hope the charges stick, these are dangerous guys!”
Documents obtained by The Valley Patriot show that the vehicle was registered out of Boston but the owner is allegedly in Puerto Rico. Officers said that while they were on Essex Street searching the vehicle and arresting the suspects the rest of the city was virtually unprotected with only seven officers patrolling the streets and most of them tied up on that one call.
“We keep asking, begging for help out here but what we get is sporadic coverage from the state police when they can spare a few men,” an off duty officer said after the incident. “But those guys don’t know the streets. It’s great to have them as backup, but they’re riding around with GPS systems in their cars trying to find street addresses.
They don’t know where the are going and on these streets a few seconds could mean a life, a civilian or one of us. We’re under Siege every single [expletive] night out here, and nobody seems to give a shit. But you watch, if one of us gets killed, or God forbid, we can’t protect someone and they die, these politicians will all be mugging for the camera at our funeral pretending to care. The time to care is now before someone is killed. The time to care is now when we can actually prevent a tragedy.”
“What we need is to get back our 25 officers, [that were laid off by mayor Lantigua] and that’s just a start. We’re gonna need another 15-20 guys on top of that just to get a handle on the epidemic that’s been created out here.”
“The criminals know what’s going on out here, we are out manned, out gunned and under siege. That makes Lawrence a playground for hard core guys like they got tonight. The word is out, Lawrence is a magnet for anyone who wants to commit a violent crimes.”
Tom Duggan is publisher of Valley Patriot, Inc., a former Lawrence School Committeeman, former political director for Mass Citizens Alliance, a Police Survivor and hosts the Paying Attention! Radio Program from 10-noon on WCAP every Saturday. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
All pictures and written material are (C) Copyright, Tom Duggan & Valley Patriot, Inc., 2012, All rights reserved