‘An awful day in Weymouth’: What we know about the fatal shooting of police officer Michael Chesna and a local woman

Authorities say officer Michael Chesna, a six-year veteran of the Weymouth Police Department, was fatally shot in the head and chest in a confrontation Sunday morning.

A makeshift memorial outside the Weymouth police station.

Weymouth police officer Michael Chesna’s shift on Sunday was almost over when he was killed.

Working midnight to 8 a.m., he responded with his fellow officers after the Weymouth Police Department began searching the area around South Shore Hospital for a suspect who had been spotted leaving the scene of a single-car crash around 7:30 a.m.

Authorities say during a confrontation that followed, Emanuel “Manny” Lopes took Chesna’s gun and shot the six-year veteran of the department in the head and chest before fleeing on foot. According to authorities, he fired several additional gunshots as he was chased by law enforcement, fatally striking an elderly woman in her home.

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The 20-year-old from Weymouth is expected to be arraigned this week on murder charges.

Here’s what we know about the shooting that has shaken the South Shore community and left police departments, politicians, and officials across the state in mourning.  

How the shooting unfolded

Police on scene at Burton Terrace in Weymouth. —Scott Eisen for The Boston Globe

The Norfolk district attorney said the events surrounding the shooting began at 7:32 a.m. Sunday, when the Weymouth Police Department received a call about an erratic driver near South Shore Hospital. Responding officers came across a single-car accident nearby involving a BMW. The driver had been seen leaving the scene on foot.

“[The] Weymouth Police Department responded and began looking for this person, this suspect, in the local area,” Assistant District Attorney Gregory Connor said during a Sunday press conference. “One of those officers was officer Michael Chesna.”

Chesna responded to the area of Burton Terrace in his police cruiser.

The DA’s office said the 42-year-old officer saw the suspect, later identified as Lopes, “actively vandalizing” a home.

The Boston Globe reports that Lopes was allegedly throwing rocks at a home on the street.

Chesna got out of his car, “drew his firearm, and commanded this man to stop,” Connor said.

Lopes is then believed to have attacked Chesna, striking him in the head with a “large stone,” according to the DA’s office.

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The officer fell to the ground.

“Lopes then retrieved officer Chesna’s firearm and discharged it several times into his head and chest,” Connor said Sunday.

According to the Globe, Chesna was shot four times.

Another officer arriving at the scene began to “return fire” at Lopes, who was struck below the knee on one of his legs, officials said.

Lopes then allegedly fled on foot, still carrying Chesna’s gun, and was pursued by Weymouth police officers.

“During the chase through the yards of Burton Terrace it is believed that Mr. Lopes discharged officer Chesna’s firearm an additional three times, striking a local resident in her home,” Connor said. “These wounds were fatal to her.”

April Visco, a resident of the neighborhood, told the Globe she heard 10 to 20 gunshots in rapid succession around 7:30 a.m. and ran outside, where she heard someone yell, “Get on the ground,” three times.

She told the newspaper she later saw officers crying and hugging each other.

Lopes was taken into custody soon after he fired the shots and transported to South Shore Hospital for treatment of injuries that were not life-threatening, the DA’s office said.

Chesna was also taken to the nearby hospital, but did not survive his wounds.

“This is an awful day for Weymouth and for Massachusetts,” District Attorney Michael Morrissey said in a statement. “Our hearts are very much with the surviving families of these victims.”

What we know about the suspect

Lopes had been arrested at least twice before by Weymouth police, the Globe reports. In September 2017, he was arrested for vandalizing a dry cleaners.

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A month later, the 20-year-old was charged in October for selling cocaine to minors and resisting arrest, according to The Patriot Ledger. He ran from officers and was later arrested with the help of a police K-9.

A 2017 booking photo of Emanuel Lopes. —Weymouth Police Department / Handout

“We have fought with him before,” a police report on the incident stated, according to the Ledger.

CBS Boston reports Lopes was on pre-trial probation in connection to that arrest and had been ordered to submit to random drug testing.

The Norfolk DA’s office said as of Monday morning Lopes remained hospitalized and the time and location of his arraignment had yet to be determined.

Attorney information for Lopes was not immediately available.

What family and friends are saying about the victims

A Weymouth police officer is embraced during a procession outside of the state medical examiner’s office in Boston. —Jessica Rinaldi / The Boston Globe

On Monday, Chesna would have celebrated his six-year anniversary of working for the Weymouth Police Department, Chief Richard Grimes said during Sunday’s press conference.

Chesna, who was an Army veteran, leaves behind a wife and two children, ages 4 and 9.  

The chief said Chesna’s mother told him Sunday that her son joined the military with the hope that it would open doors for him to get a job with the Weymouth Police Department.  

Grimes said the 42-year-old was assigned to the department’s traffic division, working the midnight-to-8 a.m. shift.

“He was just a great family man, he was a great officer,” Grimes said. “I would see him in the morning coming in from the street, he always had a kind word and a good attitude. He was one of those people who truly sought this job, was fortunate enough to get it, and very much appreciated it. And we very much appreciated his service to the Weymouth Police Department.”

Officer Michael Chesna, on Dec. 10, 2012.

Chesna’s father-in-law, Francis Doran, 78, of Marshfield, told the Globe the shooter had “no mercy” and said he is worried for his grandchildren.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen to Mike and Cindy’s boy and girl,” Doran said. “I don’t know how much a 4-year-old understands, how much a 9-year-old understands. They absolutely loved their father.”

Doran told the Globe his daughter, Cynthia, met Chesna about 15 years ago when they worked at the same bar in Quincy. Chesna was working there to help pay for the criminal justice degree he was pursuing at Northeastern, Doran said, and the couple married before Chesna served two tours with the Army, in Iraq and in Afghanistan.

The couple and their children had lived in Hanover the last three years, according to the Globe.

The Weymouth Police Department said a fund has been set up to help the slain officer’s family.

“Mike was everything you want someone to be,” Joe Sgambato Sr., whose son was a friend of Chesna’s and is also a Weymouth police officer, told the Globe.  

By Sunday evening, a makeshift memorial was in place outside the Weymouth Police Department and a procession of vehicles from local departments served as an escort as Chesna’s body was taken to the state medical examiner’s office in Boston, saluted by civilians and officers on the way, according to the Globe.

Police stand at salute along Main Street in Weymouth on Sunday, as Chesna’s body is driven to the state medical examiner’s office in Boston. —Pat Greenhouse / The Boston Globe

Liz O’Herron was among those who stood by the road on Sunday, telling the Ledger through tears she’d just seen Chesna the day before.

“I saw him and he said ‘I’ll see you tomorrow,’” she said. “He was the best guy in the world. Nobody could say a bad thing about Mike. I just can’t believe it.”

Vera Adams. —Beatriz Sheridan and Arlene Vieira

Authorities say they are withholding the name of the elderly woman who was killed in her home, pending next of kin notifications.

But a family member and a friend identified her to the Globe as 77-year-old Vera Adams, a widow who had no children.

Sandra Boucher, Adams’s sister-in-law, told the Globe the lifelong Weymouth resident was a “wonderful person” and an avid reader.

“She had many friends, but she really kind of kept to herself most of the time,” she said.

A candlelight vigil for Chesna and Adams is planned for 7 p.m. Monday at Weymouth High School. 

Flowers grace the front of the Weymouth police station on Winter Street.
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