One man is dead after being shot by police following an incident Friday afternoon near Boston University’s campus. Officials say the man charged at Massachusetts State Police troopers with a knife on the Silber Way footbridge, which connects BU to the Charles River Esplanade.
Police responded to reports of an officer-involved shooting on BU’s campus around 2:30 p.m. Friday. Officers from the Massachusetts State Police, Boston Police Department and BU Police Department all arrived at the footbridge, where witnesses saw the shooting take place.
Mary Winters, administrative assistant to the chief of police of BUPD, said all officers were out reporting to the location of the incident.
Vicky Radaios, a rising sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences, said she saw the shooting take place.
“I live over in 197 [Bay State Rd.], by the bridge,” she told The Daily Free Press. “The guy was holding a knife and was walking towards the cop and the cop shot him four times … I saw him go down.”
The man was later identified as Santos Laboy, a 45-year-old Somerville resident.
Corey Bither, a recent graduate of the College of Arts and Sciences, said she was on the Esplanade when the incident occurred. She said she saw police chasing the man west down the Esplanade, shouting to her, “he’s got a gun, he’s got a gun.”
“He came up right behind me and so I kind of ran away, then I saw him on the footpath and a cop pointing a gun at him, and kind of leaning into it and yelling ‘put the weapon down,’” she said.
Bither said police surrounded the man on the top of the footbridge, then shot four times.
“It was just kind of surreal … adrenaline was still kind of flowing through me from being so close when they shouted that they had a gun,” she said. “I was just sad that a man’s life was taken right in front of me.”
She said she was surprised that something like this occurred near BU’s campus.
“I couldn’t believe that that would happen so close to where I went to school for four years,” she said. “It was just so shocking to the core.”
From her point of view, Bither said, the police appeared to handle the situation well, for the most part.
“I don’t know if four shots was really necessary for a man who was only wielding a knife,” she said, “but he had evaded them for a long time and he was definitely trying to escape.”
A few hours after the shooting, Colonel Timothy Alben, the superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police, made a statement at the scene of the incident. Alben said state troopers were around the Esplanade area looking for a man who had outstanding warrants at the Roxbury District Court. The officers pursued the man, who fled on foot, before noticing the man was brandishing a knife.
Alben said state troopers eventually encountered the man, who was described as possibly Caucasian or Hispanic, on the footbridge, where he made threatening gestures with the weapon.
“The trooper ordered him to put down the weapon he was brandishing. He did not,” Alben said. “There were shots fired at that point.”
Alben said the incident is now under investigation. No police officers were injured in the encounter, he said.
“All of this needs to be completed over the ensuing hours and days,” he said. “I can’t go into much detail beyond that, but again, the individual is deceased and hopefully we’ll be out of here in a reasonable amount of time.”
According to a press release from Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel Conley’s office, Chief Trial Counsel John Pappas has been assigned to investigate the use of deadly force in this case.
“Our role as prosecutors is to determine whether the use of lethal force was justified as a matter of Massachusetts law,” Conley said in the release. “That determination will be made after a full, fair, and impartial investigation. We draw no conclusions from the preliminary evidence and we reserve judgment until all the facts are in.”
BU President Robert Brown sent an email to all students Friday evening assuring that there is no reason to worry about a continued threat to the community.
“Please know that as always Boston University officials will work closely with all relevant public safety officials in addressing any and all issues that arise as a consequence of this sad and disturbing event,” he wrote in the email. “I am grateful to all officers who were engaged in this and whose conduct limited risk of harm to those who may have been in the vicinity at the time events unfolded.”
Bither said even after looking back on what she witnessed Friday, she is still having trouble gathering her thoughts.
“It was just so shocking, amidst all these other school shootings and church shootings and all these high tensions about gun laws, that violence would happen right in front of me,” she said. “I’m still processing it.”
Sekar Krisnauli contributed to the reporting of this article.