Man who barricaded himself had explosive device ready as police moved in

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WORCESTER, MA – On April 20, 2021 at about 10:40 p.m., a man called 911 stating that he had a rifle and an explosive device that he planned on detonating.

Worcester Police officers were dispatched to the area of Grafton Street and checked the area. After several minutes, officers located the man on Grafton Street near the Cumberland Farms at the intersection of Barclay Street. A perimeter was set up to keep the public safe.

Officers observed the man with an assault rifle, body armor, backpack, as well as what appeared to be an explosive device. The Crisis Negotiation Team began speaking with the male, and they talked for several minutes. Worcester Police SWAT Team was also activated and arrived on scene.

Negotiators attempted to de-escalate the situation over the telephone and in-person over a long stretch of time. As the officers were negotiating, he made some furtive movements toward the officers and negotiators.


At 12:05 a.m., Phet Gouvonvong, 31, of Worcester, was shot. He was pronounced dead at the scene by Emergency Medical Service personnel. The Worcester Police and the Massachusetts State Police Bomb Squad are investigating in conjunction with Worcester County District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr.’s Office. The investigation is in the early stages and is ongoing.

“The incident that unfolded on Grafton Street last night and this morning was tragic, and will have a lasting impact on the members of the Worcester Police Department and our community at large,” City Manager Edward M. Augustus, Jr. said. “I offer my sincere condolences to the family of Mr. Gouvonvong, and am devastated for all involved. As the investigation continues, I ask for everyone to keep our officers and Mr. Gouvonvong’s family in their thoughts and prayers.”

“I first want to recognize the professionalism of the members of the Worcester Police Department, 911 dispatch, and their partners in the Massachusetts State Police, in the face of a very difficult and deadly situation,” said Mayor Joseph M. Petty. “My thoughts and prayers are with Mr. Gouvonvong’s family and the officers involved.” “I want to express my condolences to the family of Mr. Gouvonvong, said Chief Steven M. Sargent. “This is the type of incident that our officers train for but hope that we never have to experience. I am grateful for the hard work that the men and women of the Worcester Police Department do every day especially on a tragic day like this.”

Chief Sargent added, “I would like to thank the Worcester County District Attorney’s Office and Massachusetts State Police for assisting with this investigation. I would also like to acknowledge and thank the citizens of Worcester who assisted us with providing video evidence. As I have said many times, we cannot effectively do our job without the help and support of the citizens we serve. I encourage residents to continue to come forward to provide any evidence that may be helpful as we move forward with this investigation.”

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