Boston man accused of firing at police during city rioting on June 1 facing federal charges

Boston man accused of firing at police during city rioting on June 1 facing federal charges
(Terry Why/Getty Images)

BOSTON — A Boston man is facing federal charges for assaulting officers with a firearm during rioting in Boston on June 1.

John Boampong, 37, was charged by criminal complaint with one count each of assaulting a federal officer, interfering with a law enforcement officer during the commission of a civil disorder, and being a prohibited person under felony indictment in possession of a firearm and ammunition, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Boston.

Boampong is currently detained in state court and will make an initial appearance in federal court in Boston at a later date.

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“The charges in this case – which involve someone legally barred from having a gun indiscriminately firing 11 rounds at a crowd of officers and civilians – are a good reminder of a simple rule: Protests, even disruptive ones, are legal. Destroying property and endangering lives is not. We will enforce that rule. This is also today’s reminder that what police officers really do every day is put themselves at risk to protect our communities,” United State Attorney Andrew E. Lelling said in a statement. “My thanks to the Boston Police for their professionalism, restraint and sacrifices during the recent period of unrest.”

According to court documents, on the evening of May 31, 2020 and continuing through the morning of June 1, 2020, what began as a peaceful demonstration in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood turned into widespread acts of violence, vandalism, looting and destruction of police property, including the burning of at least one police vehicle on Tremont Street. Some protestors threw rocks, bricks and commercially-available explosives, such as M-80s, at police officers. Numerous police officers were injured.

Court documents allege that on June 1, 2020 at approximately 3 a.m., Boampong was driving his car near Arlington and Boylston streets in front of a store that had been looted that evening. Police officers instructed Boampong and his passengers to leave the area. The occupants of Boampong’s car initially became verbally combative towards the officers and failed to leave the area as instructed.

When Boampong reversed the car, officers told him to stop, as officers and another vehicle were in the way. Boampong kept driving in reverse until one officer knocked with his baton on Boampong’s car to get his attention.

Boampong then drove away, but soon returned to the area, parked on Providence Street, and allegedly shot at least 11 times toward officers, including a deputized federal officer. The officers took cover by bracing or ducking behind cars and others objects. Bullets broke through the windows of two apartments above ground level in a building behind some of the officers.

When officers eventually stopped Boampong’s car, they saw a Sig Sauer P230 9mm firearm lying on the floor of the front passenger-side floor mat, and a black holster underneath the driver’s seat, where Boampong had been sitting. The firearm was recovered, examined and revealed to have Boampong’s fingerprint on it.

At the time, Boampong was prohibited from possessing a firearm or ammunition because he faced pending state charges carrying potential sentences exceeding one year.

“Shooting toward police officers who are there for no other reason than to protect the public is appalling, and it’s against the law. So is illegally carrying a loaded handgun. But we believe that’s exactly what John Boampong is alleged to have done. He incited panic, putting everyone—including civilians—in danger,” Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Boston Division, said in a statement. “Today’s charges should send a clear message: there will be serious consequences for violent instigators who are exploiting legitimate, peaceful protests and engaging in violations of federal law.”

Boston Police Commissioner William Gross said he worked alongside the FBI and Lelling’s office to bring charges were brought against Boampong.

“This sends a clear message that people committing violent crime in our city, against our residents, and my officers, will not be tolerated,” Gross said.

District Attorney Rachael Rollins said on June 3, her office charged Boampong with 21 counts of armed assault with intent to murder. Since then, he has been removed from the community awaiting a dangerousness hearing, Rollins said.

“Mr. Boampong’s behavior was egregious, violent and unacceptable and he will be held accountable,” Rollins said. “Any opportunity to work in collaboration with our federal partners to keep Suffolk County residents and the members of law enforcement that are sworn to protect and serve us, is welcomed by my office.”

If convicted of assaulting federal officers, Boampong faces a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. If convicted of interfering with law enforcement officers during a civil disorder and being a prohibited person in receipt of a firearm or ammunition, he faces a sentence of up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000.