Island police departments are mourning the death of Weymouth Police Sgt. Michael Chesna who, after responding to a call of a single-car crash on Sunday, was shot and killed with his own gun, according to an article by CBS Boston.
Police from every town on Martha’s Vineyard are commemorating Chesna’s death by lowering flags to half-staff, as well as wearing mourning bands across their badges.
On Thursday afternoon, thousands of people — family members, community members, and police officers — filled the streets at Chesna’s wake in Hanover, to honor his life and his service.
Many officers from the Island attended the wake, and this morning attended his funeral at St. Mary of the Sacred Heart Church in Hanover. Chesna will be laid to rest at Blue Hill Cemetery in Braintree.
Chesna was a husband and father of two young children.
Island police said they are deeply saddened by yet another officer being killed in the line of duty.
“It’s too common these days,” West Tisbury Police Chief Matthew Mincone said. “We are all getting too used to it.” Mincone said a societal change is in order to prevent these types of tragedies.
Two officers from the West Tisbury Police Department traveled to the wake and attended the funeral this morning.
Oak Bluffs Police Lt. Timothy Williamson said Chesna’s death shows just how dangerous a routine call can be. “It’s just another awful tragedy,” Williamson said.
Officer David Murphy of the Aquinnah Police said the news media should report more positive instances of the use of lethal force by law officials, in order to shift the public mindset from viewing defensive action in a negative light. “Most of these use-of-force incidents are justified,” said Murphy.
Aquinnah Police Chief Randhi Belain attended the wake, and is currently away for the funeral.
Tisbury Special Police Officer Nick Sidoti was at a loss when asked what his thoughts were on Chesna’s death. “There is so much to say, too much to say; it really can’t be expressed in words or print,” Sidoti said.
Tisbury Officer Scott Ogden rode a police motorcycle to the wake, and attended the funeral to honor Chesna.
Edgartown Police Chief Bruce McNamee played bagpipes at the wake and the funeral. “You can almost apply the same rules and procedures of the last police funeral,” said McNamee. “I think everyone is thinking about the family and what they are going through. Their new normal is going to be very difficult for them.”
McNamee said sometimes these incidents are unavoidable, but are devastating nonetheless.
“It was a warm, sunny Sunday morning. In 30 minutes, he would have ended his shift and gone home to his family,” McNamee said.
According to an article by CBS Boston, 20-year-old Emanuel Lopes was throwing rocks at a house when Chesna confronted him. Lopes struck Chesna in the head with a large rock, then took the officer’s gun and shot him repeatedly.
Another officer arrived at the scene and shot Lopes in the leg, at which point Lopes ran away and fired shots into a nearby home, killing 77-year-old Vera Adams, according to the article.
Lopes is charged with two counts of murder, along with several other charges, and faces two life sentences if he is found guilty.
Vera Adams, 77, was an innocent bystander who was shot and killed by the assailant while standing in the sliding door of her home, according to the article.