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Three people fatally shot in Cambridge

Former Bedford police officer shot 3 relatives and then himself, authorities say

The body of John Brosnahan, a former Bedford police officer, lay covered with a sheet next to the Charles River in Brighton. The body of John Brosnahan, a former Bedford police officer, lay covered with a sheet next to the Charles River in Brighton. (Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe)
By Derek J. Anderson, Taylor M. Miles and and Matt Byrne
Globe Correspondents / December 10, 2011
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CAMBRIDGE - Three people were shot and killed in a domestic incident in Cambridge yesterday, and the suspect committed suicide hours later, the Middlesex district attorney’s office said.

Police were called to 161 Grove St. at approximately 6:40 p.m. and discovered three adults, all related, dead of gunshot wounds in the home in what District Attorney Gerald T. Leone Jr. referred to as a domestic violence case.

“The unfortunate reality after they [authorities] arrived was that they found three people dead in the house evidencing obvious gunshot wounds,’’ Leone said. “This is another horrific example of domestic violence, a familial incident leading to three dead persons in that house.’’

Hours later, police found the suspect’s body with a self-inflicted gunshot wound in the Charles River near 1400 Soldiers Field Road in Brighton.

The body was found close to a car authorities had been searching for. The license plate number matched the one Cambridge police had released in an advisory when they were searching for the suspect.

Leone’s office said the body was that of John Brosnahan, 67, a former Bedford police officer and a relative of the victims.

He had worked for Bedford police from July 1, 1972, until Jan. 2, 2000, Bedford police said in a statement.

Police Chief Robert Bongiorno said last night, “Our concern now is with the Brosnahan family.’’

More than a dozen police vehicles had congregated around the scene by the water’s edge. A white sheet covered the body.

About 150 yards from the site of the suicide, a state trooper was guarding the car.

It was parked in the lot attached to the Henderson Boathouse.

At the Grove Street scene last night, a woman arrived at the one-story brick home, which was blocked off with yellow crime tape, and was crying hysterically as she talked to police.

Another woman who was standing in front of the crime scene, who would not provide her name, said she was accompanied by the brother of the owner of the house.

“All we know is that somebody got shot,’’ she said. She said she was unsure if one of the victims was the husband of the sobbing woman.

“We are not identifying the three decedents at this time,’’ Leone said. “Again it’s a familial, domestic violence situation. However there are several next of kin who need to be notified, and we’re very diligently working on doing that right now.’’

Vincent Borelli, 71, who lives on Lawrence Street and has lived in Cambridge for about 55 years, said his daughter-in-law called him and said something was going on.

He went to Grove Street because he knew the family.

Borelli described them as “nice people.’’

“I think the father passed away not too long ago, a couple years ago,’’ he said.

Borelli said he had not heard of any domestic issues in the household, across the street from a playground.

Trina Ott, who lives nearby on Dalton Road, said she went outside to walk her dog, heard sirens, and headed toward the scene.

At one point, she said she saw about 19 police officers outside the house, along with numerous emergency vehicles and firetrucks.

Ott said after authorities put up the crime scene tape, she looked and saw an officer holding a large gun. There was a lot of traffic coming through Grove Street at the time, about 7:30 p.m.

“These cops [were] standing here on Grove Street, lining the parameter with these automatic weapons,” she said. “I don’t know what people were thinking when they were driving by it, but they probably weren’t thinking that they were in Belmont or Cambridge.”

She said she did not know the family and never saw them.

“I thought it was interesting that there were so many police officers,’’ she said. “That’s what made me realize something was not right. Either it’s a major deal, or there is another police officer involved.’’

Ann Reynolds, who lives close by on Fairview Avenue, stood across the street from the home with her 11-year-old son and said she was surprised by what had happened. “It is a really quiet area, although it is Cambridge,’’ she said.

Derek J. Anderson can be reached at derek.anderson@globe.com. Taylor M. Miles can be reached at tmiles@globe.com. Matt Byrne can be reached at mbyrne.globe@gmail.com.

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