On Wednesday, the small Massachusetts town of Millis was swarmed by police looking for a gunman who opened fire on a police officer.
But now they say that the shooter was right under their noses the whole time.
During the manhunt, Millis police Sergeant William Dwyer said that a white man in a maroon pickup truck had ambushed a police officer, opening fire without provocation as he drove past him.
Dwyer said that the officer drove off the road in an attempt to avoid gunfire, then crashed into a tree, causing his cruiser to burst into flames.
But the next day, Dwyer said that the police officer had shot up his own cruiser and made up the story about being shot at.
“He fired shots at his own cruiser as part of a plan to concoct a story that he was fired upon. The evidence indicates that the shots were not fired by a suspect and there was no gunman at large in or around the town,” Dwyer said.
The department did not release the officer’s name, only saying that he was a 24-year-old who works full time as a dispatcher and part time as a patrolman, and was set to begin training for a full-time position as an officer soon. However, NECN identified him as Bryan Johnson.
According to a statement issued by the police department, “An extensive search for ballistics evidence at and around the scene was also conducted. As a result of that search, the only ballistics evidence recovered was that belonging to the part-time officer.”
That evidence, as well as several interviews conducted with the officer, led the department to conclude that he “fabricated” his story of being shot at.
The officer will be fired and criminally charged over the incident, although no charges have been filed yet.
Prior to the incident, Millis Middle School received two threatening phone calls. The first caller said that a crime may occur in town at some point during the day. About an hour later, someone called in a bomb threat.
“At this time, we do not if that threat is related to the fabricated shooting report. That part of the investigation is ongoing,” the department said in its statement.
The State Fire Marshal is also continuing to investigate the reason the officer’s car caught fire.
The officer’s story led to a massive manhunt that included the Massachusetts State Police, the cost of which to taxpayers is not yet clear, and residents were told by police to shelter in place. School was also cancelled for Thursday, as police still believed that a shooter was on the loose Wednesday night.
“The alleged actions of this officer should NOT reflect on the remainder of the Millis Police Department. The other officers on this department are dedicated public servants and committed to the highest levels of integrity. To their credit, they undertook the difficult task of investigating one of their own and did so without bias,” the department said in its statement.
UPDATE (9/4/2015): The Millis Police Department has confirmed that they are seeking four charges against Johnson: misleading a police investigation, providing false information to emergency services, malicious destruction of property, and unlawful discharge of a firearm. Johnson has not yet been terminated from his job and is currently on paid leave.