Officer shot in face, leg undergoing surgeries at Boston hospital; 7 suspects facing charges

BOSTON — A Springfield police officer who was shot in the face and leg earlier this week is undergoing treatment at a hospital in Boston, his department announced Friday.

Officer Nestor Santos, a veteran of seven years, has a bullet fragment lodged in his head from gunfire that erupted on Wednesday night, according to the Springfield Police Department.

“He has had one surgery, and Doctors were able to save his eye, but he will likely lose his vision in one eye,” the department wrote in a Facebook post. “He will likely need several more surgeries before he is released.”

Santos was on his way to work around 10:40 p.m. Wednesday when he came across the scene of a shooting where another cruiser was shot about five times in the area of State Street and Hunter Place, according to police.

The shooters, who were armed with an AR-15 rifle and inside a Jeep Cherokee, then turned their attention to Santos and shot at his car, police said. Santos was rushed to Bay State Medical Center before being transferred to Boston for emergency surgery.

“I want to send out my thoughts and prayers to our injured officer and his family. We will be by his side throughout the recovery process and I want his family to know that we’ll be here for him,” Springfield Police Superintendent Lawrence E. Akers said. “Every day our officers come into work not knowing what they will face, but I can say without a doubt that when they face these potentially deadly situations they do so with courage and are a testament to the profession.”

Officers had been searching for individuals in a Honda Civic who previously shot at detectives in the Springfield Police Firearms Investigation Unit when occupants in the Jeep drove by and opened fire, according to police.

The Civic was later found in the area of Riverview Terrace and three occupants were taken into custody on the Interstate 91 ramp. Police said that two Department of Transportation employees who were working nearby were struck by the driver of the Civic. One worker suffered serious injuries.

The Jeep was later located at a home on Randall Place, where four people were arrested, police said. Seven total illegal firearms were also seized during the arrests.

The suspects arrested on the I-91 ramp were identified as 18-year-old Robert Willis III, 18-year-old Alberto Torres, and a 17-year-old boy, all of Springfield. The four Springfield natives arrested at Randall Place were identified as 18-year-old Isak Font, 26-year-old Dwight Clarke, 31-year-old Jaime Griffin, and a 16-year-old boy.

All seven suspects are facing various firearms-related charges. Investigators noted that five of the suspects, including Font, had been previously arrested on firearms charges, while the 16-year-old was out on bail in connection with another shooting, and Clarke had an outstanding firearms warrant.

Springfield police said The Greg Hill Foundation is raising money for Officer Santos and his family for their extended stay in Boston and medical bills.

An investigation is ongoing.

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