South Boston man arrested after allegedly threatening city councilor, slamming car into police cruisers

“This man has terrorized people in my neighborhood for years."

Boston City Councilor At-Large Michael Flaherty.
Boston City Councilor-At-Large Michael Flaherty, above, said that John Donovan had threatened to kill him and his staff “all weekend." –Yoon S. Byun/Globe staff

A South Boston man faces a variety of charges after he allegedly threatened to kill a Boston city councilor, and then put up a “lengthy struggle” that included hitting police cruisers multiple times with his vehicle before he was arrested.

John Donovan, 53, is being charged with two counts of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, assault and battery on a police officer, driving to endanger, willful and malicious destruction of property, leaving the scene of an accident with property damage, and threats. He is to be arraigned in South Boston District Court, according to Boston police.

City Councilor Michael Flaherty said during a council meeting on Monday that Donovan threatened to kill him and his staff “all weekend.” He also put out a statement about the incident that night, noting that “a few” of the police officers involved in the arrest were injured.


“As an elected official, the well-being and safety of the residents across our city is an utmost priority for me,” he wrote. “No one should experience any level of threatening actions directed towards them. My family, my neighbors, my supporters and my staff should not feel that they are in harm’s way. I feel awful and I am deeply sorry that this incident happened.”

Boston police noted that there were two incidents of threats “made towards community members in South Boston on Saturday.”

Police were sent to the Stop & Shop supermarket parking lot 713 East Broadway in South Boston to help a Boston Housing Police officer who was trailing the suspect near the Old Colony Avenue/Dorchester Street intersection, police said.

Officers attempted a traffic stop, but Donovan allegedly fled. They soon heard that Donovan made threats at a campaign office on East Broadway and was seen leaving there. Police then saw Donovan get into a vehicle that was parked, according to police.

“When officers approached the suspect’s vehicle from behind, the suspect repeatedly used his vehicle to strike the officer’s cruisers,” police said. The Boston Globe reported that this all occurred in the supermarket parking lot and that at one point, officers broke a window to get Donovan out. “The officers were eventually able to place the suspect in custody after a lengthy struggle,” police said.


Flaherty stressed the importance of treatment for mental health in his statement, noting that prosecutors may consider sending Donovan to the Boston Mental Health Court. He added that the incident goes beyond “someone having a bad day.”

“This man has terrorized people in my neighborhood for years, resulting in many restraining orders,” he wrote. “Unfortunately, traditional methods have not yielded any positive results for this man.”

Staff writer Christopher Gavin contributed to this article.