Byline: Scott J. Croteau
WORCESTER - Police officers called him cold, calculated and ready to kill them.
But the family of Anthony Burns, the city man sentenced to 18 to 20 years in prison yesterday for shooting at four police officers in November, said that if he had wanted to gun one of them down, he could have.
"Anthony Burns made a conscious decision to try and end my life by gunfire," veteran police Officer Thomas J. Drakos Jr. told the judge in Worcester Superior Court.
Relatives in the courtroom wept as Mr. Burns pleaded guilty to multiple assault and weapons charges. After he was sentenced, his youngest sister, Jamey Burns, said her brother never tried to shoot the officers.
She claims the shots were aimed in the air. He was panicking, she said. One of Mr. Burns' supporters called him a "crack shot."
"If he wanted to hit someone he would have," Jamey Burns said.
Three of the four officers involved in the gunfight in a parking lot on Grafton Street gave impact statements before the now 21-year-old man was sentenced. A dozen city police officers filled one side of the courtroom.
Mr. Burns was wanted on a probation violation involving a Superior Court case in which he allegedly broke into cars in four communities. Law enforcement officials from the Warrant Apprehension Team headed to 9 Branch St. on Nov. 16 to pick up Mr. Burns. He was also wanted on a warrant out of Uxbridge District Court on drug and receiving stolen property charges.
Officials saw Mr. Burns jump down from his apartment and flee, cutting behind yards before ending up in parking lot on Grafton Street, not far from the Interstate 290 on-ramp about 12:30 p.m.
Officer Drakos followed closely in a cruiser with Officer John L. Bossolt not far behind.
Once in the lot, Mr. Burns fired his .22-caliber handgun at the officers, nearly striking Officer Drakos, Assistant District Attorney Terrence M. Reidy said. A bullet fragment lodged in Officer Drakos' right shoulder. It remains there.
Officers Terrence O. Gaffney and John F. Clary soon arrived. As Mr. Burns let loose with several rounds, Officers Gaffney, Bossolt and Drakos returned fire. Eventually Mr. Burns was struck twice by Officer Gaffney's shots. He fell to the ground.
Mr. Reidy said the suspect struggled, and officers used a Taser on him, twice.
"I never saw the firearm until Burns discharged several rounds at me and three other officers who arrived with me," Officer Drakos said. "Burns' round shattered my...