A Millis, Massachusetts, police officer whose harrowing tale set off a massive manhunt and shut down schools fabricated the entire story.
Residents of Millis were in a state of panic on Wednesday after a police officer said that someone had fired shots at his vehicle, causing the car to crash into a tree and burst into flames, the Boston Globe reports. The officer claimed that he had been driving down a road when he saw a pickup truck driving opposite him. When the vehicles passed each other, he said, the driver opened fire on the police vehicle.
"My cruiser's been shot at. I'm at Forest Road. It's going to be a dark maroon pickup," the officer had radioed to dispatch at the time.
After that, the officer claimed that, in an attempt to flee the onslaught of bullets, he had inadvertently crashed his cruiser into a tree, causing the vehicle to combust.
“We have determined that the officer’s story was fabricated. Specifically, that he fired shots at his own cruiser as a plan to concoct a story that he was fired upon,” Millis Police Sgt. William Dwyer told WCVB-TV. “The evidence indicates the shots were not fired by a suspect, and there is no gunman at large in or around the town.”
According to Sgt. Dwyer, the officer in question will be fired, though police have said that they will not identify the duplicitous officer until the investigation is over. It is likely that the officer will face criminal charges.
The 24-year-old officer had been with the department for a year and a half, during which time he worked as a part-time officer and a full-time dispatcher.
His fictitious tale resulted in a huge search operation complete with a SWAT team, police dogs, and a Massachusetts State Police helicopter. Heavily-armed police combed through the nearby wooded area for several hours, to no avail.
A search for ballistic evidence did, however, reveal that the only ballistic evidence recovered from the scene of the crash belonged to the officer himself.
Why the officer made up such a story is not yet known to the public, but Sgt. Dwyer wanted to "make sure the public knows that they are now safe."
Photo credit: WCVB-TV