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Firearms suspect called self ‘Hitman’

By Matt Woolbright
Globe Correspondent / June 15, 2012
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CHELSEA – Since the 1990s, Leroy Martin has been imprisoned at least twice and has used at least six aliases, officials said. On Thursday, officials said he has been using a new name – “Hitman.’’

Martin, 34, was arraigned in Chelsea District Court on charges including illegal sale of a firearm and ammunition and carrying a firearm without a license. Martin, a Brighton resident, pleaded not guilty to all charges and was ordered held on $100,000 cash bail.

Martin was arrested Wednesday evening after a car chase during which a state trooper fired at his vehicle. The shooting is under investigation, according to State Police.

It was while using the nickname Hitman that Martin came to the attention of State Police and the FBI investigating gang activity and illegal firearm sales on the North Shore, State Police said in a report of the Wednesday incident.

Martin, according to the report, had agreed to sell a .357 caliber revolver to a person who was cooperating with investigators. The cooperating witness knew Martin as Hitman.

According to police, Martin met with the cooperating witness at a department store in Revere about 4:30 p.m. Wednesday and sold the gun for about $700 cash. The transaction was recorded by the cooperating witness and troopers followed Martin from the parking lot as he drove along Route 1 north, Route 16, and again on Route 1, heading south, State Police said.

When Martin reached the tollbooths on the Tobin Bridge, he sped off, State Police said. “There was thick traffic and the suspect was driving recklessly through traffic attempting to evade arrest,’’ State Police Sergeant Paul McCarthy wrote in the report. Martin was driving 45 miles an hour in a 30 mile per hour zone, McCarthy wrote.

Martin allegedly sped onto Storrow Drive, O’Brien Highway, and Land Boulevard, then Broadway in Cambridge, with State Police following.

When the chase reached the area of 55 Broadway — near a wide crosswalk — a trooper fired at least one shot toward Martin’s car. In a statement issued Wednesday night, State Police said the trooper was “placed in fear for his life and the lives and safety of pedestrians.”

State Police would not answer questions Thursday about the shooting, but said the department is launching an investigation — which will include officers from across the state — to determine whether the shooting was in accordance with the department’s use-of-force policy. The Middlesex District Attorney’s Office will review the findings, police said.

After the shooting, State Police called off the chase, citing traffic and concern for public safety.

Martin allegedly continued down Broadway in Cambridge and then over the Longfellow Bridge into Boston, where he crashed at Charles Circle. Police searched the Boston neighborhood, but Martin was not found until Transit Police and a trooper spotted him at the Kendall MBTA Station, police said in the report.

In court, Suffolk Assistant District Attorney Christopher Henry said that Martin had been imprisoned in 1998 for 18 months and was released from state prison this spring after serving four years. According to court records, he pleaded guilty in Suffolk Superior Court to charges that he shot and nearly killed his sister’s boyfriend on Dec. 8, 2006, as the victim pleaded for his life.

In April, he was back in court for a probation violation and was ordered to remain on probation until 2013, according to records.

Martin’s attorney said in court Thursday that authorities were rushing to judgment, especially because no firearm was found when Martin was taken into custody.

“They didn’t see the person in the car, they didn’t see the guns on the person,” Marcy Levington, Martin’s court-appointed attorney, told Judge James Wexler. “It would seem as though a lot of the facts of the case aren’t as solid as the Commonwealth would like us to believe.”

If convicted, Martin faces a minimum of 15 to 20 years in prison because he is considered an armed career criminal based on prior convictions, which include drug and assault charges.

Martin is due back in court July 9.

John R. Ellement of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Matt Woolbright can be reached at Matt.woolbright@globe.com.

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