A shooting right outside Boston's prestigious Brigham and Women's Hospital Friday morning was followed by a police chase that ended in a violent crash and the suspected gunman's fatal shooting, authorities said.
A valet for the hospital was shot and critically wounded, according to Boston police. His condition was upgraded to stable Friday evening.
No one else was hurt in the incident, which spanned multiple, normally quiet municipalities. The chase ended on Route 9 on the border of Brookline and Newton, near the upscale Chestnut Hill fashion center, authorities said.
U.S. & World
"It was a bit surreal to hear a gunfight in Chestnut Hill," said Retired Army Maj. Bob Kinder, who was across the street running an errand at the FedEx shop when he heard what he said were six or seven shots at the busy intersection at Route 9.
Brigham Health issued a statement Friday afternoon thanking Boston police and their employees for their response to the situation.
"Our colleague who was injured is being cared for by our clinical team and we are confident he is in the very best hands," spokeswoman Erin McDonough said in the statement. "The hospital is returning to normal operations, but traffic around the hospital remains challenging."
IMAGES: Police Respond to Shooting Near Boston Hospital
What Happened in the Two Shootings
Police were still piecing the incident together as of Friday afternoon and couldn't say what prompted the shooting, but they described a chaotic scene outside the hospital and after the chase ended.
Having received a call for a man with a gun, officers who arrived at a back entrance of the Brigham on Fenwood Road and Vining Street found a man who pulled out a gun, according to Boston police Superintendent-in-Chief Gregory Long.
During the confrontation, the man assaulted an officer on the ground, then fled into Brookline in a silver sedan, with police officers giving chase, Long said.
The chase ended in a crash and the suspected gunman jumped out of his car and toward a Star Market parking lot, when officers from several jurisdictions told him to drop his weapon, which he pulled out, according to Long.
“After ignoring multiple commands to drop what appeared to be a firearm, multiple officers, including a Massachusetts State Trooper, discharged their firearms at the suspect," Long said.
The suspect, identified Friday evening as Justin Root, a 41-year-old Mattapan resident, died after being taken to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, which is in the same medical complex as the Brigham.
Root's father told NBC10 Boston that he suffered from a mental illness.
"He was a beautiful young boy who, as he grew up, he contracted mental illness, and sometimes, that mental illness put him in this paranoid state," he said. "He had a paint gun that could have easily looked like a gun."
Root's father said it was hard not knowing what happened to his son.
"If I were to put a finger on a feeling, it would be that I'm very sad," he said.
“Had police not taken that individual down before he reached that parking lot, it could have turned into a hostage situation," said Kinder, the eyewitness to the shooting.
Chaos at the Brigham
Police were notified of the valet's shooting at the same time as the confrontation outside the Brigham was taking place, Long said.
The Brigham said Friday morning that the valet was in stable condition at the hospital. Long said Friday afternoon that the valet, a 49-year-old man, was in critical condition, but police announced that his condition was upgraded to stable around 5:45 p.m.
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh commended the officers' police work and offered condolences to the valet.
"Our prayers go out to the victim here. He's in one of the best hospitals in the world ... hopefully he'll [have] a speedy recovery," Walsh said at a news conference.
Another hospital valet, Elvis St. Clair, reacted to the intense day by saying, "Praise the Lord he's still alive."
NBC10 Boston has reached out to the valet company but has yet to hear back.
The hospital confirmed that the incident was clear about 20 minutes after the incident began. Photos from the scene showed a section of the street outside the hospital cordoned off with yellow police tape.
The incident created gridlock around the hospital and confusion for those inside.
"It was about two minutes or three minutes where we just stayed in place," said Devin Bigoness, who was at the hospital visiting his father. "We’ve all gone through some of the drills.”
Wrecked Cars on Route 9
Massachusetts State Police Lt. Col. Christopher Mason said the scene of the gunman's shooting, at the Brookline/Newton line at Hammond Street and Route 9, would still need to be worked over by crime scene investigators until 5 or 6 p.m. There are road closures in the area.
Photos from the second scene showed a vehicle with severe front-end damage surrounded by police tape. At least three cars at the scene were seriously damaged.
The suspect’s tires broke off and his airbag deployed.
“We heard this big crash," said witness Dexter Anderson. "The front axle of the car got dumped in the intersection and one of the wheels went running up Hammond Street.”
The Massachusetts Department of Transportation said one lane in each direction was closed on Route 9.
The Green Line E Branch was suspended between Brigham Circle and Heath Street. Delays should be expected.
The Norfolk District Attorney's Office said it was investigating a fatal, police-involved shooting in Brookline. They said the incident is being investigated as possibly connected to earlier incidents in Suffolk County, which led to a pursuit down Route 9 to the area of Hammond Street in Brookline. The Suffolk District Attorney's Office said it is also involved in the investigation into the shooting near Brigham and Women's Hospital.
State police said Boston police were chasing a suspect from Brigham and Women's Hospital when they joined the pursuit. The suspect vehicle was involved in several crashes and eventually lost its wheels at the second scene on Route 9 in Brookline. The suspect got out of the car and Boston and state police exchanged gunfire with the suspect, state police said. The suspect was shot and later died. No police officers or civilians were injured.
Police are asking any witnesses of either incident to share what they saw or any video they have with investigators at 781-830-4800.