WINTHROP, Massachusetts: Family and friends are mourning the two bystanders killed on Saturday (Jun 26) afternoon by a white gunman in a Boston suburb in an attack officials are treating as a hate crime.
David Green, a 68-year-old retired Massachusetts State Police trooper, and Romana Cooper, a 60-year-old Air Force veteran, were each shot multiple times by 28-year-old Nathan Allen after he crashed a stolen box truck into a building in Winthrop. Allen was fatally shot by police moments later. Both victims were African-American.
Green's longtime friend, Nick Tsiotos, said that the two had coffee together just hours before the attack. He said the retired trooper had been sitting outside his home and tried to help after hearing the crash.
“He went out and tried to do what he was doing for 36 years with the state police: Trying to help save lives and help save people," Tsiotos, who attended high school with Green, told WCVB-TV. “I really believe he saved people’s lives. Dave probably stopped him from going into homes and killing people.”
Massachusetts State Police Colonel Christopher Mason said that Green retired from the state police in 2016 after nearly 40 years in law enforcement. He also served in the Air Force.
“Trooper Green was widely respected and well-liked by his fellow troopers, several of whom yesterday described him as a ‘true gentleman’ and always courteous to the public and meticulous in his duties,” Mason said in a statement. “From what we learned yesterday, he was held in equally high regard by his neighbours and friends in Winthrop.”
Cooper's son, Gary Cooper Jr, remembered his mother as “caring and selfless” and always ready to help anyone in need.
“We are heartbroken and she will be missed, just a senseless thing to have happened,” he said in a statement to WCVB-TV.
Others placed bouquets of flowers and other remembrances on the temporary fencing around the destroyed building over the weekend.
“Praying you are dancing in the sunshine and singing with the angels,” one note on the makeshift shrine read, the Boston Globe reported.
Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins said on Sunday that authorities are investigating whether Allen targeted the victims because they were black.
She said that officials found “troubling white supremacist rhetoric” in the gunman’s handwriting that included “anti-Semitic and racist statements against black individuals”. She also noted that Allen walked by several other people that were not black and did not harm them.
It is not clear where Allen was heading at the time, but he was travelling at twice the speed limit and crashed the truck not far from some Jewish houses of worship, Rollins said.
Allen was also legally licensed to carry a firearm, had a doctorate, was married and was employed, according to Rollins. “He had nothing in his background check,” she said.
Allen’s wedding proposal to his then-fiancee was profiled by the Globe last summer.
The couple was married during the COVID-19 pandemic at the nursing home where the woman's grandfather lived, with some 200 people watching via Zoom.
At the time, Allen had completed his studies at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and was on track to become a physical therapist, the Globe reported on Sunday.