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Three Firearms Recovered, Three Arrests Made after Suspect Fired Approximately 11 Shots at Springfield Police Detectives

|   City News

On Friday March 18th at approximately 6:00 p.m. members of the Springfield Police Firearms Investigation Unit (FIU) under the direction of Sgt. Christopher Hitas recovered three firearms and arrested two suspects after a suspect fired approximately 11 rounds at an unmarked police cruiser with two Springfield Police Detectives inside and an additional five Springfield Police Detectives in the line of fire. A third suspect was arrested in Clinton, Massachusetts Monday morning.

Springfield Police Detectives were conducting an unrelated investigation Friday when they observed two known subjects, Walter Jones and Melvin Rios, traveling in a car on Orchard Street.  Detectives were aware Jones had an active extraditable arrest warrant in Vermont for firearms charges.  Detectives followed the vehicle and called for assisting units as they prepared to conduct a traffic stop.  Jones, who was driving, turned onto Humbert Street and Rios stuck half his body out of the rear passenger door window.  Rios then fired approximately 11 rounds at the cruiser.  Two Detectives were inside the cruiser and five assisting Detectives were in the line of fire.  Detectives could hear the bullets whizzing over their heads, ricocheting off the ground and striking nearby objects.  No officers or police vehicles were struck.  The officers did not return fire with their service pistols. 

A vehicle pursuit began and a suspect in the front passenger seat tossed a firearm out the window.  The suspect vehicle was driving recklessly and at times the wrong way down city streets.  The Massachusetts State Police Air Wing arrived to assist and maintained surveillance of the suspect vehicle.  The driver slowed down and swerved near William Sand Jr. Road and three individuals got out of the car and began to flee on foot.  Jones continued to drive before crashing into a wall on the 1400 block of Bay Street. 

Detectives arrested Jones after he crashed.  Another female passenger was taken into custody and later released.  Detectives located one firearm inside the car, a second firearm just outside the car and a third firearm which was tossed during the pursuit on Fisher Street.  10 shell casings were recovered on Humbert Street.

Detectives arrested Rios on the 0-100 block of William Sands Jr. Road.  Detectives took another female passenger into custody, but she was released.  One male suspect was able to evade police Friday night. 

Detectives were able to identify the at-large suspect as 25 year old Elijah Wheeler-Watson and requested a warrant.  On Monday March 21 at approximately 10:00 a.m. members of the Massachusetts State Police VFAS and Clinton Police Officers arrested Wheeler-Watson at a home in Clinton, Massachusetts.  Springfield Police Detectives transported Wheeler-Watson back to Springfield Police Headquarters after he was booked at the Millbury State Police Barracks. 

Springfield Police Superintendent Cheryl Clapprood stated, “It does not go unnoticed that even during these times of negative police sentiment, the women and men of the Firearms Investigation Unit and entire SPD continue to risk their own lives and safety for those in our city. From what I can gather is that we came very dangerously close to losing our own lives during this operation. I am very grateful that no one was hurt, and it goes as another one of successful arrests of felons with guns who would undoubtedly kill or injure anyone in their way. I’d like to thank the Massachusetts State Police, its VFAS Unit and the Clinton Police Department for their assistance and coordination with our Firearms Investigation and Warrant Apprehension Units.”

Mayor Domenic J. Sarno stated, “First, God Bless our brave and dedicated men and women of the Springfield Police Department.  Police Superintendent Clapprood and I are relieved that no one was injured during this reckless and irresponsible incident where they could care less about the lives and safety of our officers or our residents.  Their actions put everyone in serious danger and could have gotten someone killed.  If these serious criminal actions with a disregard for human life doesn’t keep them locked up and off our streets, what will!”


25 year old Melvin Rios of Belchertown is charged with:

  • Armed Assault to Murder (7 Counts)
  • Discharging a Firearm within 500 Feet of a Building
  • Carrying a Loaded Firearm without a License – 2nd Offense
  • Carrying a Loaded Large Capacity Firearm on a Public Way
  • Carrying a Loaded Firearm without a License – 2nd Offense (2 Counts)
  • Violation Firearm Surrender Order

Rios has a previous firearms conviction where he was sentenced to 90 days in 2021. 


26 year old Walter Jones of Springfield is charged with:

  • Fugitive from Justice on a Court Warrant
  • Reckless Operation of a Motor Vehicle
  • Failure to Stop for Police
  • Operating a Motor Vehicle with a Suspended License


25 year old Elijah Wheeler-Watson of Springfield is charged with:

  • Arrest Warrant
  • Carrying a Firearm without a License
  • Carrying a Loaded Large Capacity Firearm on a Public Way
  • Improper Storage of a Large Capacity Firearm


Page last updated:  Tuesday, March 1, 2022 01:32 pm