Bodycam Shows Man's Flare Gun Shootout with Mass. Police

April 8, 2022
The footage captures the confrontation between Springfield and Massachusetts State Police and a man armed with a flare gun, which he used to shoot and injure an officer.

By Will Katcher


It was over in a matter of minutes.

The events on the night of Jan. 27 began when MGM Springfield security denied 24-year-old Anthony Nguyen entry to the casino.

But the situation quickly escalated, ending with the Springfield resident shooting a police officer with a flare gun before engaging police in a midnight shootout in the casino parking garage, according to a timeline of the encounter reported in court records.

The events that played out in and around the downtown gambling venue have thus far only been reported through police descriptions of what occurred.

But video captured by a police body-worn camera shows for the first time the moment Springfield officers and Massachusetts State Police troopers shot the man suspected of firing on an officer with a flare gun outside the casino.

The footage obtained by MassLive was filmed by the chest-mounted camera of a Springfield police officer who wielded a department-issued rifle during the parking garage shootout as the 24-year-old suspect launched flares at officers.

Nguyen is accused of shooting Springfield police officer Matthew Truex in the hand with a flare gun after being turned away from the MGM casino around 12 a.m. on Jan. 27. Public records obtained by MassLive also show the injury Truex sustained in the confrontation.

After shooting the officer with a flare gun in an alley outside the MGM, police said Nguyen ran into the casino parking garage, where he engaged police in a shootout with the flare gun. Nguyen was shot by police and taken to Baystate Medical Center with life-threatening injuries.

He was still in serious condition weeks after the incident, his attorney said in court records.

Nguyen appeared via Zoom for an initial hearing in Springfield District Court on Feb. 16. But in a motion filed Feb. 22, Korrina Burnham, the lawyer appointed by the Committee for Public Counsel Services, said that Nguyen was limited in his ability to speak with her and therefore was unable to participate in his defense or in a hearing the following day. Nguyen has since been transferred to Lemuel Shattuck Hospital in Boston.

In court records, police laid out a detailed timeline leading up to their exchange of gunfire and flares with Nguyen, including events that occurred before the available body camera footage was filmed. Nguyen’s case file in Springfield District Court has since been sealed.

MGM security denied Nguyen entry to the casino after finding what appeared to be shell casings in his bag. But Nguyen did not leave the MGM facility, and instead was spotted dancing around the seventh-floor lobby of the building’s parking garage, security reported to police.

Officers from the Gaming Enforcement Unit — a joint team of Springfield and state police stationed at MGM — responded to the area and spotted Nguyen on the steps of the Roderick L. Ireland Courthouse, across State Street from the casino.

But after losing sight of him, Truex and Officer Christopher Cotto left their cruiser and circled the area of the courthouse on foot. Truex reported in court filings that he saw movement in an alley between Springfield Juvenile Court and an abandoned building and recognized Nguyen.

After shouting at Nguyen to remove his hands from his pockets, Truex said the man pulled out a flare gun and fired one shot, striking the officer in his hand.

Nguyen ran and crossed into State Street, firing flares at two more officers arriving at the scene, police said. The projectiles struck the front of the Juvenile Court building. Nguyen ran to the back of the parking garage, where officers said he continued to shoot at them.

It was at this moment that the body camera footage began.

The two-minute video opens at 12:06 a.m. on Jan. 27 as the unnamed Springfield police officer wearing the camera whips through his keychain in search of a key to unlock a weapon from his cruiser.

As he stands beside the cruiser parked near the entrance to the first floor of the MGM garage, a voice yells: “Woah, woah, woah, woah — back up!”

The officer turns around the back of his cruiser, the camera revealing three other officers with guns drawn.

“Let me see your hands!” an officer calls out. “Hands!”

As the sirens of additional police vehicles grow closer, the officer wearing the body camera unlocks a rifle from his cruiser, chambers a round, and switches off the safety.

“Where is he?” the officer yells.

Several voices echo through the garage in response as officers move further into the building.

“On the left. Left, left, left!”

“Get on the ground!”

“Get on the f— ground!”

At the far end of the garage, a figure passes between two structural pillars. As the officers move closer, sheltering behind other pillars, the video shows a flash of red. The whoosh of a flare reverberates through the garage. It was the only flare shot captured by the police video.

Over the next five seconds, police open fire on the suspect. The officer whose body camera is filming fires his rifle, the recoil visible in the frame. In the distance, the figure at the end of the garage crumples.

The officers run toward the motionless body, yelling for the person to show his hands. When they reach him, an officer kicks an orange flare gun across the floor. They handcuff the man before an officer squats down to begin first aid. Another officer asks if anyone is injured.

Springfield police reported that Nguyen was treated by police and paramedics at the scene before being brought to Baystate.

Later, while searching Nguyen’s belongings, detectives said they found large stacks of counterfeit money. MGM security told police that Nguyen had been found with counterfeit money at the casino the week before.

Nearly 30 officers and troopers had their body cameras on during the shootout, court documents said.

After weeks of delayed court hearings while under care at Baystate, Nguyen appeared for the first time in Springfield District Court via Zoom on Feb. 16 to face charges of armed assault with intent to murder, five counts of assault with a dangerous weapon, carrying counterfeit money and carrying a dangerous weapon, public records stated.

Truex was taken to the hospital and released later the morning of Jan. 27.

“I’m thankful our officer is going to be OK and no other officers or civilians were harmed during this dangerous encounter,” Springfield Police Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood said in a statement the morning of the shooting.

At an event at the Basketball Hall of Fame the same morning, Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno said the police acted professionally in response to a dangerous situation.

“A flare gun is a danger and — again — the officer was hit,” he said.

He said he was waiting for Hampden District Attorney Anthony Gulluni to complete his investigation into the incident — “and we’ll go on from there.”

The investigation is still ongoing, a spokesperson for the district attorney said Thursday.

MassLive reporter Tristan Smith contributed to this story.


©2022 Advance Local Media LLC.


Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Sponsored Recommendations

Build Your Real-Time Crime Center

March 19, 2024
A checklist for success

Whitepaper: A New Paradigm in Digital Investigations

July 28, 2023
Modernize your agency’s approach to get ahead of the digital evidence challenge

A New Paradigm in Digital Investigations

June 6, 2023
Modernize your agency’s approach to get ahead of the digital evidence challenge.

Listen to Real-Time Emergency 911 Calls in the Field

Feb. 8, 2023
Discover advanced technology that allows officers in the field to listen to emergency calls from their vehicles in real time and immediately identify the precise location of the...

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of Officer, create an account today!