Two Boston police officers shot and wounded a suspected drug dealer Tuesday in a midday exchange of gunfire in South Boston, a chaotic scene that sent bystanders fleeing to a nearby park for safety.
As part of a drug investigation, the uniformed officers approached the suspect behind a building in the McCormack housing development and pursued him when he fled. The man ran to the front of the building, then turned and fired several shots at the officers, police said.
“At some point during that foot pursuit, that individual raised a weapon and discharged rounds at the officers,’’ Boston police Superintendent in Chief Daniel Linksey said at the scene.
Officers returned fire, shooting the man in the chest. The suspect fell to the ground and surrendered, police said. Police recovered a revolver from the suspect and assorted narcotics.
The man was taken to Tufts Medical Center with injuries considered life-threatening. Authorities declined to identify him.
The officers were not struck, but received treatment for stress.
After hearing several shots, one witness looked outside his window in the housing development to see that police had pinned a man to the ground. The man appeared to be bleeding from his chest.
“I knew it wasn’t firecrackers,’’ said the witness, who declined to give his name. “Bang, bang, bang.’’
The shooting, the third time this year that Boston police officers have shot a suspect, shattered the summer calm at the public housing development and unnerved residents and visitors to Moakley Park.
“It was pretty scary,’’ said a woman named Mary, clutching her baby to her chest.
After parking her car on Old Colony Avenue beside the park, she said, she heard several shots fired in rapid succession. She froze for a moment, unsure what was happening. But when more gunfire rang out, “we all ran,’’ she said. “It was so quick.’’
Before fleeing, Mary saw an officer kneel near the corner of a building, aim his gun, and fire several shots.
“It never occurs to you in broad daylight that people are going to open fire,’’ she said.
Another woman, who also declined to provide her full name, said drug activity is common in the complex and that crime has worsened in recent years. “I don’t feel safe letting my kids play outside here anymore, especially after dark,’’ she said. “Now they’re shooting during the daytime, so I don’t know if it’s safe anytime.’’
Police did not release the names of the officers involved. They surrendered their guns for ballistic analysis and were placed on administrative leave pending an investigation into the shooting, in keeping with department protocol.
A team of investigators, overseen by Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley and the Boston police Homicide Unit, will conduct the investigation.
The shooting was the third time in the past two months Boston officers have shot a suspect. On June 2, officers shot and killed a man identified by family as Ross Batista, 38, after he allegedly fired at officers outside a party on Willowwood Street in Dorchester. Police said Batista opened fire on officers as he sat in a car near the Mattapan-Dorchester line.
“He was executed,’’ Julio Batista, Ross Batista’s father, told the Globe last month. “There was no chance for him to survive those wounds.’’
On June 12, Boston and State Police shot Kenneth Connelly, 53, of South Boston after he allegedly pointed a pellet gun at the officers near East Eighth Street, about a mile from Tuesday’s shooting.
Police were called to the scene Tuesday around 1 p.m., when the officers were sent to investigate a report of a woman smoking crack cocaine. The officers cited the woman.