By Beth David, Editor
A man who shot at police was killed, and an Acushnet police officer was injured at the Bayside Lounge in Fairhaven on Friday, 12/29/23.
Former New Bedford Deputy Fire Chief Paul Coderre, 55, of Dartmouth, who was also the Acting Fire Chief for a time, fired a handgun at police while standing in the parking lot at the Bayside, while police had automatic weapons trained on him. They fired back, and he was killed.
An Acushnet police officer was shot in the ankle, treated at the hospital and released.
“Thankfully the Acushnet Police Officer wounded in tonight’s incident has been cleared by a local hospital and is at home resting,” wrote the Acushnet Police on its Facebook page. “Thank you for the outpouring of support.”
According to Bristol County District Attorney Thomas Quinn, Mr. Coderre had been drinking during the afternoon at the bar, and was prevented from driving home by his friends.
The police were called at about 4:30 p.m. and learned that Mr. Coderre was in possession of a firearm. Officers from Fairhaven, Acushnet, Mattapoisett, and State Police Troopers converged on the property in force.
Sconticut Neck Road was blocked off and scores of cruisers, unmarked cars, and other police and fire vehicles filled the area.
Mr. Coderre stood in the middle of the parking lot while police and one of his friends spent more than half an hour trying to talk him down, according to the DA, patrons inside the bar, and Neighb News sources.
A variety of non-lethal methods were used, including a tazer, to subdue Mr. Coderre, but nothing worked.
“They attempted to speak to him and deescalate the situation,” said DA Quinn. “Several attempts were made to use non-deadly force to subdue him, including the use of a tazer. Those attempts were not successful.”
At some point, Mr. Coderre fired his firearm, said the DA.
“Police returned fire, and as a result of that Paul Coderre died,” said Mr. Quinn, adding that during the altercation the Acushnet police office was shot in the leg.
He was released from the hospital just a few minutes before the press conference and was in “good spirits,” said Mr. Quinn.
“I would just say that this highlights the dangers that police officers face every day when responding to these types of situations,” said Mr. Quinn.
“It’s important to highlight the human part of this,” he said. “There’s a person doing his job. He’s shot, he could’ve been killed. And this is the danger that people face.”
He added that police are confronted with more and more of “these lethal situations” with so many guns on the street.
“They don’t know what they are walking into,” he said. “I appreciate their effort and the danger they face as they try to subdue individuals who are out of control.”
In response to a question, Mr. Quinn said “several other means of deescalation were used that were not successful.”
He said the incident was still under investigation, and that there was a lot of evidence at the scene, but he was “not in a position” to comment on it.
“He was in possession of a weapon, fired it. They went out of their way to try to subdue him without using deadly force. Unfortunately, as a result of him firing his gun they returned fire and he died,” said Mr. Quinn.
He credited the police more than once for trying to use non deadly force to resolve the situation.
“I want to commend police for their conduct in dealing with a life and death situation trying to use non deadly force until they were left with no alternative,” said Mr. Quinn.
During the standoff, some patrons moved outside to the opposite side of the building. Several patrons and people in the neighborhood said they heard one shot, then a volley of shots.
“We didn’t realize the lady there was his wife, and they were all crying. It was awful,” said one patron. “I heard gunshots and thought ‘somebody’s life is ending right now.’ It was awful. A lot of us just started crying.”
She said the bartender, a young woman, handled it all very well. The patron even contacted her the next day to thank her for “holding everyone together.”
After the shooting, people went inside, but police kept them from the windows.
“The ambulance came right up and scooped him up,” she said. “I don’t believe it happened. I don’t believe I was there.”
She said the police tried to take care of him. They took their time trying to calm him down.
“It was about a half hour,” she said. “I think at that point, he said my life is screwed right now and he shot, and that was his death wish. It’s so messed up. It really is. It’s awful.”
Ed “Fitzy” Fitzsimmons was also in the bar. He said he watched much of it unfold. He saw two of Mr. Coderre’s friends go out to take his keys. When they came back, one was bleeding. Other sources also said Mr. Coderre physically fought his friends to keep possession of his keys.
Then police were called, and Mr. Coderre stayed in the parking lot while patrons were not allowed to leave.
“In a matter of five minutes of someone telling us not to go outside, there were cops everywhere,” said Mr. Fitzsimmons.
He said he could see out the window from where he was standing. He could see Mr. Coderre outside, but could not see who was speaking to him.
“There was a cop blocking the door,” said Mr. Fitzsimmons. “So we were trying to look around his head.”
He could see enough to realize that Mr. Coderre was talking to someone.
“Hats off to the cops because they were trying to talk this guy down for 30 to 45 minutes,” said Mr. Fitzsimmons. “You could see him getting aggressive, with his hands moving.”
Then he heard the shots.
“Bottom line: I think they did a great job,” said Mr. Fitzsimmons. “They did what we want them to do. We want them to try to diffuse the situation, until it can’t be diffused. They tried to calm him down. He didn’t calm down.”
The Fairhaven Firefighters union, Local 1555, issued a statement that reads in part: “Responding to an incident involving a fellow brother firefighter presents unique challenges, both professionally and emotionally. Local 1555 acknowledges the difficulties faced by our members and their families stemming from this incident, and we are committed to providing the necessary support and resources to ensure their well-being and mental health.”
“I am profoundly grateful for the outpouring of support from our community and fellow first responders during this challenging time,” said Local 1555 president Kevin Gonsalves in the statement. “Together we will navigate through these difficult times, supporting one another and ensuring the safety and well-being of our community.”
The Town of Fairhaven also issued a statement thanking Acushnet and Mattapoisett for mutual aid, and offering support for the officer who was injured.
“The collaboration and support demonstrated by the responding agencies underscore the strength of unity within our communities,” reads the statement, which also includes thanks to first responders, including dispatchers, for their unwavering commitment to public safety. “Your dedication does not go unnoticed, and we are immensely grateful for your service.”
The town also said that the Employee Assistance Program is available to support employees in need, and encourages those who require assistance to reach out.
“For community members seeking counseling in the wake of this incident, New Bedford’s Community Services Department has offered the services of the Community Behavioral Health Center,” reads the statement. “They can be reached at 508-996-3154. Walk-ins are welcome at 965 Church Street, New Bedford, MA, and additional support can be accessed online at www.child-familyservices.org. We thank them for their support.”
Both statements are available below.
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