Auburn Police Officer Ronald Tarentino, Jr., was shot and killed in the line of duty early Sunday morning. He was 42 years old, married, and the father of three. Officer Tarentino joined the Auburn Police Department about 2 years ago, after serving as a police officer in Leicester, where he lived.
During a traffic stop on Rochdale St. at about 12:30am Sunday, a suspect fired a number of shots at the officer, fatally wounding Tarentino. The suspect fled the scene in the vehicle, a white Infinity SUV.
According to Mass. State Police Superintendent Colonel Richard D. McKeon, speaking at a Sunday evening press briefing, the car was spotted on Watch Rd. in Oxford later Sunday morning. Police from multiple agencies responded to the address, and a prolonged standoff ensued.
“Police responded t0 a duplex at 31-33 Watch St. in Oxford, ” said McKeon. “The State Police Special Tactics, or STOP, team cleared unit 31, and the and suspect was not located. Officers noticed an opening in a cellar wall that passed to unit 33 and they made the decision to search 33.”
Officers cleared the basement and first floor of the unit, and then proceeded to the second floor.
Said McKeon, “When officers entered the second floor bedroom a closet door burst open and the suspect fired at officers. STOP officers then shot the suspect who suffered life threatening injuries.”
That suspect, 35-year-old Jorge Zambrano, was transported to UMass-Memorial University Campus where he was pronounced dead.
Also wounded in the exchange of gunfire was an 18-year veteran state trooper and former Nave SEAL. The officer’s injuries are not life threatening, according to McKeon. He stated that the trooper’s identity was not being released to protect the privacy of his family.
Auburn Police Chief, Andrew Sluckis, Jr., expressed sorrow as well as gratitude to the community.
“Tarentino was a dedicated and brave public servant” said Sluckis during an earlier press briefing.
Speaking later in the day, Sluckis stated, “We continue the process of speaking for Officer Tarentino. We owe the family a thorough accounting of exactly what happened.”
“The outpouring of support was a lot more than I anticipated” continued Sluckis. “The kind words and support from this community mean a lot.”
Residents flocked to the Auburn Police Headquarters on Oxford St., N., many placing flowers at the base of the memorial. Many residents are displaying blue exterior lights in memory of Tarentino and as a show of support to the entire police department.
The Auburn Fire Rescue Department worked with APD to drape the front of Police Headquarters in black bunting, shortly after draping AFRD Headquarters in black bunting in memory of retired fire Chief, Roger Belhumeur, who passed away on Saturday.
There was also a tremendous show of support across the state, as a police procession escorted Tarentino from the medical examiner in Boston back to a funeral home in Tarentino’s hometown of Leicester. According to reports, every overpass on the route had police and fire saluting the procession. The route from the Mass Pike Exit 10A, down Route 20 and into Leicester was lined with fire officials, police officers, and residents paying respects to the fallen officer.