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Boston police officer in coma after shooting

Last Updated Mar 28, 2015 8:47 PM EDT

BOSTON -- Police Commissioner William Evans said Saturday Boston police officer John Moynihan remained in critical condition and a medically induced coma after being shot "without provocation" on Friday night.

At a press conference, Evans called the incident "a real violent confrontation that was clearly unprovoked by our officers," and added that there is "excellent video" that shows how the events unfolded, CBS Boston reported.

The shooting took place at about 6:40 p.m. Friday in the area of Humboldt Ave. and Ruthven Street in the Roxbury section of Boston.

Moynihan, 34, and five other gang task force members, traveling in two cars, stopped a car after reports of shots fired, Evans said. The commissioner said the officers had blue lights flashing but none had pulled out their weapons.

According to Evans, as Moynihan approached the driver's door, the suspect, Angelo West, 41, suddenly pulled a gun and shot him at point-blank range.

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Boston police said Officer John Moynihan, left, was shot in the face during a traffic stop Friday, March 27, 2015, by Angelo West, left, who was fatally shot by officers who returned fire.
CBS News/Boston Police Dept.

Evans said West continued firing at the other officers as he tried to run away, emptying his .357 Magnum handgun, and was killed at the scene when police returned fire.

West, a resident of Boston's Hyde Park neighborhood, had a violent criminal past with several prior gun convictions, according to police.

Moynihan, 34, was struck just below his right eye and the bullet remains lodged below his right ear. Evans said the officer was in critical condition and a medically induced coma as doctors performed tests, including monitoring possible bleeding in the brain.

"We're just all very lucky that he's still with us today," said Evans. "He's a tough kid. He's going to pull through. I just hope there's no further damage."

A woman driving by in a car suffered a flesh wound and was recovering in good spirits, Evans said. Three other officers were taken to a hospital with stress-related problems.

Mayor Marty Walsh said in a statement Moynihan and the other victim are in his prayers.

"I have spoken with Officer Moynihan's family and Commissioner Evans and I am hopeful that under the experienced and talented team at Boston Medical Center the officer will continue on a strong path to recovery," Walsh said.

"It is clear that Officer Moynihan is a hero for our city, and the entire nation, and today we are thankful for all of those who put their lives on the line every day to protect us," the mayor said.

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Boston police investigators look for evidence after a suspect opened fire during a traffic stop, wounding an officer before being killed by police, on Friday, March 28, 2015, in the Roxbury section of Boston.
CBS News

Moynihan is on the police department's Youth Violence Task Force and is a highly decorated military veteran, Evans said.

He is a former Army Ranger who served in Iraq in 2006-2007 and was honored at the White House in May 2014 with the National Association of Police Organization's TOP COPS award.

Moynihan received the award for being one of the first responders in Watertown following the April 2013 gunbattle with the Boston Marathon bombers.

He had helped transit police Officer Richard Donohue, who was shot in the leg and nearly bled to death when police tried to apprehend Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, Lieutenant Michael McCarthy said.

"Obviously a very gut-wrenching situation, and has an even bigger impact when we found out who the officer was," Donohue told CBS Boston on Saturday about the Roxbury shooting. "John played a part in saving my life, and that's something I will never forget. His record of service speaks for itself."

Evans said Moynihan is single, and his girlfriend, sister and other relatives were at the hospital along with clergy members.

Two other people in the car with West have not been charged in the shooting, Evans said, but are held on unrelated outstanding charges.

District Attorney Daniel Conley said the top prosecutor from his office will investigate the killing of West as state law requires and it will be "completely transparent."

Conley added that he has already watched video of the shootout and concurs with Evans' assessment that West's actions were part of a "completely unprovoked attack."

Such shootings are rare in Boston, but firearms are a major concern in the city, the commissioner said.

A clergymen and anti-violence leader, the Rev. Mark Scott of the Azusa Christian Community, said he is praying for Moynihan and his family, and for a neighborhood that has been plagued by violence.

"There is much work that people have done with the police that has made our community a lot safer," he said.

The Rev. Mark Scott of the Boston Black Ministerial Alliance spoke at the Saturday press conference and said West's actions were unacceptable.

"We condemn the behavior of the man who was involved in the shooting. That's unacceptable, reprehensible behavior," Scott said.

"This is not about 'black lives matter,'" he said, referring to a chant used in protests following the shooting of an unarmed black man by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, last summer. "It's about all the lives in the community matter."

Police are asking anyone with information about the shooting to come forward, adding that witnesses can remain anonymous if they wish.