Massachusetts and the Nation were given the disastrous news that Aburn Police Officer, Ronald Tarentino, 42, husband and father of three children, his oldest son currently serving in the military; was killed in during a traffic stop.
Jorge Zambrano, 35, of Worcester, Massachusetts shot and killed Officer Tarentino for reasons still unknown to investigators. Around 12:30 AM on Sunday, a justified stop of Zambrano was underway – he was operating an Infiniti QX4 with a license plate that was registered to a Nissan Maxima. Last week, Zambrano was stopped for the very same violation, by Massachusetts State Police and was charged with: attaching plates, operating with a revoked license, and operating an unregistered motor vehicle.
On his final stop, Zambrano reacted by killing Officer Tarentino. Following the shooting, Zambrano immediately fled the scene in his SUV. Exasperating his deadly and thoughtless actions on Sunday by setting off an eighteen-hour manhunt, which ended in the injury of another law enforcement officer and Zambrano’s death.
As Zambrano ran, citizens and representatives from multiple police departments lined the street to pay respect along the route of a motorcade that transferred the body of Officer Tarentino from the medical examiner’s officer and to a funeral home in Leicester. Others laid bouquets of flowers and miniature American flags at a memorial outside of the Auburn Police Department, where the flag was lowered to half-mast in honor of Police Officer Ronald Tarentino.
Meanwhile, throughout Auburn and the surrounding area, multiple law enforcement agencies converged as a joint investigation was launched that involved several regional police departments, Massachusetts State Police, the Worcester County District Attorney’s office, the FBI, and the Secret Service. Together they extended a dragnet to close on Zambrano. For eighteen hours, Zambrano eluded authorities until his SUV was identified behind a duplex apartment building. There, Zambrano found himself cornered, and would make his final mistake; cowering in the second-floor bedroom closet of the duplex, at 33 Watch Street in Oxford.
Law enforcement surrounded the duplex, where a stand-off commenced, and officials attempted to negotiate Zambrano’s surrender. Outside, law enforcement and the Massachusetts State Police’s Tactical Operations (STOP) team, prepared to retrieve Zambrano if he refused to come out. Among them was an eighteen-year State Police veteran and former Navy SEAL, whose name has not been released.
Late on Sunday evening, following a prolonged silence by Zambrano, police eventually entered and cleared the duplex with the aid of tear gas and working dogs. Following the initial check, police determined that the duplex was clear, until an opening in the cellar that connected the duplex units was found. Zambrano had used the opening to briefly elude authorities within the duplex. Following its discovery, STOP was called forward to detain Zambrano.
Unfortunately, Zambrano defied capture, and as the STOP team converged on his final hiding hole, he sprung forth from a bedroom closet. Shouting and firing on the STOP team; Zambrano was killed shortly after his outburst. Although, not before he landed one shot in the shoulder of the former SEAL, who walked to the ambulance after sustaining the injury during the brief exchange of fire. The former SEAL underwent surgery at UMass Lake Side Hospital. He is now listed as stable and is expected to make a full recovery.
From the scene, a Massachusettes State Police Spokesman said:
The suspect had been hiding in a closet, apparently after sneaking into that side of the duplex from the adjoining residence at 31 Watch Street.
Zambrano’s criminal record reflects an unremorseful history of dangerous behavior, which included trafficking in cocaine, assault and battery on a police officer, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, resisting arrest, and selling, using or possessing a firearm silencer. Crimes which highlight the negligent history of a career criminal. Most recently, Zambrano was released from a maximum-security correctional facility in Shirley, Massachusetts, on Nov. 1, 2013, and was scheduled for a court date on June 9th, to answer for his traffic stop from last week.
Chief Andrew Sluckis, of the Auburn Police Department, commented on the loss of Officer Tarentino, saying this is, “[A] tragic loss, ” and that Tarentino was a “dedicated and brave public servant.” He continued:
Tarentino lived by four ideals: integrity, hard work, courage, and dedication to duty.
Officer Tarentino worked here for two years and there’s not a member of this department that didn’t embrace him and like him. He got along with everybody. He was somebody that was always smiling. He was an outstanding guy, and we’re going to miss him quite a lot. The residents of Auburn have lost a brave and dedicated public servant.
Your thoughts and prayers are appreciated, but if you really want to help; donations can be sent to the Officer Ronald Tarentino Jr. Memorial Fund at Savers Bank in Auburn.
Mail donations to:
Officer Ronald Tarentino Jr. Memorial Fund
C/O Savers Bank
38 Auburn St
Auburn, MA 01501
Featured Image – Officer Ronald Tarentino’s body is transported from the medical examiner’s office and to a Leicester funeral home. Image courtesy of Auburn, Massachusetts Police Department