Police Officer Ronald Tarentino, Jr.
Auburn Police Department, Massachusetts
End of Watch: Sunday, May 22, 2016
Tour of Duty: 2 years
Badge Number: Not available
Cause of Death: Gunfire
Date of Incident: May 22, 2016
Weapon Used: Gun; Unknown type
Suspect Info: At large
Agency Contact Information
Chief Andrew J. Sluckis Jr.
Auburn Police Department
416 Oxford Street North
Auburn, MA 01501
Phone: (508) 832-7777
Police Officer Ronald Tarentino was shot and killed while conducting a traffic stop on Rochdale Street, near Zabelle Avenue, at approximately 12:30 am.
An occupant of the vehicle opened fire on him during as he approached the car, striking him multiple times. He was transported to UMass Memorial Medical Center where he succumbed to his wounds.
The subject who shot him fled the scene and remains at large.
Officer Tarentino had served with the Auburn Police Department for two years and had previously served with the Leicester Police Department. He is survived by his wife and three children.
AUBURN – A 42-year-old Auburn police officer was shot and killed overnight following a motor vehicle traffic stop.
Officials identified the slain officer as Ronald Tarentino Jr. He leaves a wife and three children.
Officer Tarentino, 42, was shot and killed around 12:30 a.m. after stopping a vehicle on Rochdale Street. The unknown assailant fled the scene.
A manhunt was underway for the shooter, who was still at large Sunday afternoon.
“We will leave no stone unturned in our investigation to determine who was responsible for Officer Tarentino’s murder,” Auburn Police Chief Andrew J. Sluckis Jr. said at a noon press briefing.
Chief Sluckis said an intensive investigation has been launched by Auburn police, Massachusetts State Police, Worcester Police, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the office of Worcester County District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr.
Chief Sluckis, appearing at the Auburn police station around noon with State Police Col. Richard D. McKeon and Mr. Early, said no details would be released in order to protect the integrity of the investigation. He took no questions.
“We are devastated for his family,” Chief Sluckis said of the slain officer, who transferred to the Auburn force from the Leicester police two years ago. “The residents of Auburn have lost a dedicated and brave public servant,” he said.
Melissa MacDonald, a 29-year Auburn resident, was one of several to leave flowers at a memorial in front of the police station Sunday morning.
Ms. MacDonald said she did not know the slain officer but wanted to express her condolences.
"We’re a very tight knit community," she said. "It’s so sad."
State police divers were in a body of water Sunday afternoon near the scene of the shooting.
Officer Tarentino’s body, accompanied by a procession of police vehicles, was transported from UMass Memorial Medical Center – University Campus, to the medical examiner’s office in Boston.
Leicester police officers stood in front of Officer Tarentino’s beige two-story home Sunday, as residents of the tree-lined street remembered him as a dedicated family man and pleasant neighbor.
Phillip Stanikmas, who had just pulled up to mow his 91-year-old mother’s lawn across the street, sat on his trailer to compose himself upon hearing the news.
“He was always around helping my mother,” Mr. Stanikmas said.
Mr. Stanikmas credited the officer for keeping an eye out for his mother when she was home alone.
“He was always willing to help,” Mr. Stanikmas said, adding that when his elderly mother was out walking, the officer would motion for motorists to slow down.
He continued: “Horrible. And young kids… This is bull."
Mr. Stanikmas also remembered being “kind of distraught” when Officer Tarentino left Leicester police to go to Auburn police recently. “Because he’s a great guy,” Mr. Stanikmas said. “I wanted him to stay in Leicester.”
His mother, Lydia Stanikmas, said, “I feel so bad. He was a nice guy…I cry over things like that. What’s happening to this country? Why are they after the cops?”
Fellow neighbors Jason and Melissa Perro called Officer Tarentino “a great guy and great family man.” The couple said they always saw the officer and his family walking the neighborhood, and the Perros’ two children played with Officer Tarentino’s youngest two kids.
Mr. Perro said he went to break the news to his son, who was sleeping over at a friend’s, but his son already knew.
“Everybody knows,” he said. “Leicester is a pretty small community.”
The officer’s next-door neighbor Vin Dagostino, called Officer Tarentino a “super nice guy with a super nice family.” Mr. Dagostino said he coached the officer’s oldest son in football years ago, and he appreciated how the officer would let Mr. Dagostino’s nine-year old son accompany the family for outdoorsman activities such as shooting arrows.
“He had no problem with my nine-year-old just tagging along,” said Mr. Dagostino, who had just arrived home from a flag football game, where he said everyone was aware of and was saddened about the loss of the local officer.
“The whole town is in shock,” Mr. Dagostino said. “Just a senseless tragedy. The family is upside down now.”
Another neighbor who declined to give her name said the officer was “just an all-around great guy who did everything for his family.” She welled up and said that she couldn’t continue talking “because it’s a sad day.”
Police Chief James Hurley, one of the officers standing in front of the Tarentino home, referred comment to investigating authorities. Chief Hurley said he would speak later, after approval from the district attorney, about Officer Tarentino’s career with Leicester police.
In Auburn, a procession of police cruisers and police motorcycles with lights flashing and sirens sounding drove by the police station around 9:30 a.m. Auburn police officers stood outside the building and saluted.
A steady stream of well-wishers visited the Auburn police station Sunday morning.
They brought baked goods and condolences, and left bouquets of flowers at the police memorial outside the station, where the flag hung at half-mast.
Shortly after 9:15 a.m., a lengthy procession of police cruisers and motorcycles with lights flashing and sirens sounding passed the police station on Oxford Street North.
Station personnel stood on the side of the road and saluted as the procession passed. Some embraced one another.
At a playing field across the street, a softball mother watching the scene unfold at the police station said she herself was the sister of a New York policeman.
“You see a procession like this, it makes you want to bawl, “ she said.