Former Police Officer Allegedly Kills Three Family Members, Then Shoots Self

Crimson News Staff

Police found three family members killed (top-left), later finding the suspected shooter dead (bottom).

UPDATED: Dec. 11 at 3:50 p.m.

Three people were shot and killed in a domestic altercation in west Cambridge about two miles from the Quad on Friday night, according to Cambridge Police Department spokesperson Daniel M. Riviello.

The Middlesex District Attorney’s office announced hours later that the murder suspect had been found dead of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound.

John Brosnahan, a former Bedford, Mass., police officer, allegedly killed three members of his family in his Cambridge home, according to police statements.

His body was found by police along the Charles River about a mile and a half from Harvard Stadium, at 1400 Soldiers Field Rd. in Brighton.

Police had been pursuing Brosnahan for several hours after responding to gunshots on Grove Street, a thoroughfare near Fresh Pond, at 6:40 p.m, according to Riviello.

The Cambridge Chronicle reported that Brosnahan’s victims were his mother-in-law and two brothers-in-law, ages 52 and 63.

Cara O’Brien, a spokesperson for the District Attorney’s office, said that the victims’ names will not be released until family members identify their bodies.

“This is another horrific example of domestic violence, a familial incident leading to three dead persons in that house,” District Attorney Gerard T. Leone ’85 said in a press conference after the murders. “We know there were disputes leading up to this, however, nothing obviously which would lead anyone to believe that something of this magnitude would occur.... We understand that the disputes were ongoing over some time and that they all related to the domestic situation.”

According to the Chronicle, Brosnahan served as a police officer for 28 years, retiring in 2000.

Harvard University Police Department spokesperson Steven G. Catalano wrote in an email shortly after the three murders occurred that HUPD monitored the situation but was not involved in the investigation. He noted that the shooting took place “a significant distance from campus.”

—Staff writer Julie M. Zauzmer can be reached at

—Check for updates.


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