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Friday, July 14, 2006

Update on Shrewsbury officer

SHREWSBURY

A Shrewsbury police officer is in stable condition today after he was shot a few inches below his bulletproof vest by a homeowner when he responded to a burglar alarm, police said.

Officer Stephen Rice, 25, underwent surgery on his abdomen and is expected to recover.

Shrewsbury Police Chief Wayne Sampson this afternoon described a hospital visit with Rice, choking up as he recalled that the wounded officer had asked about his partner, who was not injured.

“We respond to thousands of calls like this every year,” Sampson said at a press conference at Town Hall. “We don't want anything like this happening to happen to anybody.”

The last time an officer was shot in Shrewsbury was 31 years ago, he said.

Rice and Officer Ryan Chartrand responded to the alarm at 2:31 a.m. on Farmington Drive, according to a press release posted by police on the town’s Web site.

The homeowner, Mark Ragsdale, 39, had “reportedly” returned home from vacation and “set off the alarm,” the press release said.

A neighbor told the officers that Ragsdale was still on vacation, police said. The officers searched the outside of the home and then went inside.

Police said when Rice reached the second floor, Ragsdale shot him. Rice was taken to the University of Massachusetts Medical Center for surgery.

Ragsdale, who has a licensed to carry firearms in Massachusetts, has not been charged. Shrewsbury police and District Attorney John Conte’s office are investigating the incident.

-- Meg Woolhouse

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