Chaotic Malden Police Shoot-Out Leaves One Dead, Two Arrested
Investigators continue to determine whether a potential fourth suspect remains at large after a serious gun battle near Cliffside Commons Apartments on Broadway Friday night.
A chaotic shoot-out between Malden police and suspects sporting body armor and semi-automatic weapons left one dead and two others in custody Friday evening, with officials warning area residents to remain vigilant as police continue their search for a potential fourth suspect.
The exchange, during which witnesses reported hearing as many as 30 to 40 shots, took place shortly after 5 p.m. outside of Cliffside Commons Apartments at 500 Broadway.
No police officers or civilians were hurt during the stand-off, Mayor Gary Christenson confirmed late Friday night.
The Malden Police are expected to release a statement with more information sometime Saturday morning. It was the city's first officer-involved shooting since 2009.
The suspects were allegedly fleeing the scene of a bank robbery at Saugusbank on Route 1 in Saugus, a heist described as a “quick in-and-out” operation by bank President Kevin Tierney, who said the incident left employees shaken, but unharmed.
William Eekasala, 35, of East Boston, was struck by a police bullet during the exchange and was transported to Massachusetts General Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.
Michael Ginnietti, 38, of Winthrop, was charged with armed robbery.
Gabriel Megna, 48, faces charges of armed carjacking, assault with a dangerous weapon and receiving a stolen motor vehicle.
Witnesses said one unidentified suspect wearing body armor seemed to surrender as he was arrested by police in the nearby Granada Highlands apartment complex. Officers were later seen guarding nearby evidence he left behind, including a handgun and bag of cash.
Details remained sketchy about the existence of a fourth suspect late Friday night, with conflicting reports appearing on social media and other area media outlets.
Christenson said police were working to determine whether another potential suspect indeed remained-at-large.
Either way, residents should remain vigilant, secure their homes and report suspicious activity to police, he said.
Though Malden police have yet to release any details about the shootings, witnesses reported hearing loud, startling gunfire in the relatively quiet neighborhood in the city's 8th ward just after 5 p.m. Friday.
A press release from the Middlesex District Attorney said the gunfight ensued after police spotted the suspects abandoning their vehicle in a nearby parking lot.
A gray sedan with bullet holes and a blown out back window was seen near the crime scene, with several visible bullet casings strewn along the sidewalk behind police tape.
George Laskey, who runs the New Englander Motor Court less than a block from the shooting, said he just happened to be following the Saugus bank robbery on his personal police scanner Friday afternoon.
“(The police) said (the suspects) were coming down (Route) 99 in a red car, and sure enough, I saw the car come speeding right by” the motel, Laskey said. “Then, a few minutes later, I hear the shots going.”
Laskey said he heard 15 shots, a pause, and then another five. He said he went to help a passerby take cover until the initial chaos subsided.
“It's a good thing it didn't happen yesterday,” he said, noting many children were playing outside in the area during Thursday's unseasonably warm weather.
Soleil Diakabana said he also heard several distinct gunshots only blocks from the scene.
"It didn't sound like firecrackers - it sounded like gun shots,” he emphasized. “We've never experienced anything like this around here before.”
Traffic crawled to a virtual standstill at the height of Malden's rush hour as the police manhunt closed down parts of Route 99, slowing traffic on nearby Route 60 and other back roads.
Several motorists stopped journalists walking alongside bumper-to-bumper traffic to inquire about the police and media presence, with many shocked to hear of a shoot-out with police in their neighborhood.
“With police? I don't believe it!” one woman said in disbelief, before being honked to move along by a motorist behind her.
Another resident, who declined to be identified for fear of retribution, was standing near the scene of one of the arrests with her two school-aged boys. She said she heard nine gunshots while driving her car home from work.
Her first thought? "Yikes."
"I thought, 'where were the kids?'" she said of her two sons, who watched the unfolding scene at their mother's side.
"They could be in the wrong place at the wrong time and get hit."
Malden Patch will continue to provide updates on this story, including an official statement from the Malden Police Department, as they become available.