Family and friends mourn 2 potential hate crime victims
BOSTON – One was a respected statesman, the other a beloved Air Force veteran.
Family and friends mourned for David Green and Ramona Cooper on Monday, the two passers-by killed Saturday afternoon by a white gunman in a Boston suburb in an attack that authorities are treating as a hate crime.
Prosecutors say Nathan Allen drew swastikas and wrote messages about white superiority in the weeks leading up to the shooting. He was killed by police moments after shooting at the victims, who were African-American.
“We are learning more every day, but I am confident to say that there was hatred in this man’s heart,” Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins said.
Green and Cooper have each been shot and killed by Allen several times after they crashed a stolen box van at a residential building in Winthrop, an extremely white coastal community located on a peninsula jutting out into Boston Harbor.
Green’s longtime friend Nick Tsiotos said the two had coffee together hours before the attack. He said the 68-year-old retired Massachusetts State Police soldier was sitting outside his home and tried to help him after hearing the crash.
“He went out and tried to do what he was doing for 36 years with the state police – trying to help save lives,” Tsiotos, who attended high school with Green, told WCVB- TV.
Green retired from the State Police in 2016 after nearly 40 years in law enforcement and also served in the Air Force.
Massachusetts State Police Col. Christopher Mason said in a statement over the weekend that he was widely respected by his colleagues, “always courteous to the public and meticulous in his duties.”
Cooper’s son Gary Cooper Jr. remembered his 60-year-old mother as “caring and selfless” and always ready to help anyone in need.
“We are heartbroken and she will be missed, it’s just some crazy thing that has happened,” he said in a statement to WCVB-TV.
Cooper, who is survived by his son, two grandchildren and twin sister, recently worked at a US Department of Veterans Affairs facility in the Jamaica Plan neighborhood of Boston.
“She was a beloved colleague who will be sorely missed,” VA spokesperson Kyle Toto told the Boston Globe on Monday.
According to Rollins, Cooper was shot three times in the back about half a block from the crash; Green was shot four times in the head and three times in the chest in an alley down the street.
A candlelight vigil will be held on Thursday evening outside City Hall for the victims, but a makeshift memorial of flowers and other memorabilia quickly grew on the temporary fence around the destroyed building over the weekend.
Governor Charlie Baker and other heads of state also offered their condolences.
“The Green and Cooper families have lost loved ones to a heinous act and we have lost two cherished officials who have proven their courage time and time again,” he tweeted Monday.
US Deputy Speaker Katherine Clark, a Democrat from Massachusetts whose district includes Winthrop, denounced the killings as an act of “hate-fueled violence” in a statement Sunday.
Winthrop Police Chief Terence Delehanty said he hoped the town would not be judged by the actions of “an individual who had a very strange ideology that is not representative of this community.”
Rollins pointed out that investigators believed Allen acted alone and the threat had been neutralized.
She said officials were investigating whether Allen specifically targeted the victims because they were black.
Officials found a notebook with “disturbing white supremacist rhetoric” in the gunman’s handwriting that included anti-Semitic and racist statements against blacks. Allen also ran into several other people who weren’t black that day and didn’t hurt them.
Allen, whose property records show he owned a condominium a few blocks from the crash site, was legally licensed to carry a gun, had a doctorate, was married and employed, Rollins said.
“To all external sources, it probably appeared unpretentious,” she said.
Indeed, Nathan Allen’s Facebook page mainly features photos of him with his wife, Audrey, as well as articles about adopting rabbits, as the couple had their own pet rabbits. The two met at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, where they graduated in 2014.
Their engagement was featured by The Globe and they were married in the retirement home where former Audrey Mazzola’s grandfather lived, with some 200 people connected via Zoom.
Audrey Allen did not respond to a phone call and email requesting comment on Monday.
Nathan Allen’s last Facebook post came on June 22, when he wished his wife a happy birthday. He posted two photos of the couple, including one kissing on their wedding day.