BARNSTABLE, Mass. (AP) — A man charged with killing a Massachusetts police officer and described by authorities as a violent career criminal was ordered held without bail Friday.
Thomas Latanowich, 29, hung his head throughout his brief arraignment in Barnstable District Court, speaking only to answer “yes” when the judge asked if he understood the proceedings.
Not-guilty pleas to charges including murder were entered on his behalf, and the judge said she would appoint a lawyer to represent him.
Latanowich shot Yarmouth K-9 officer Sean Gannon, 32, on Thursday while he and other officers were serving an arrest warrant for an alleged probation violation at a home in Barnstable on Cape Cod, police said.
Gannon was taken to Cape Cod Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Gannon’s dog, Nero, was also shot. Dennis Veterinary Hospital posted on Facebook that Nero was shot in the face and neck but has been stabilized and faces surgery Friday, although he is “not out of the woods.”
The loss of Gannon has stunned the picturesque community of Yarmouth, right next to Barnstable.
His next court date was scheduled for June 26.
“Sean, remarkable young man. We refer to him as the Tom Brady of the Yarmouth Police Department,” Chief Frank Frederickson said outside of court. “He’s gone. He died doing what he loved. He’s going to be sorely missed.”
An eight-year veteran of the force, Gannon was married and a graduate of both Bishop Stang High School in Dartmouth and Westfield State University. He previously worked for the Nantucket and Stonehill College police departments.
Republican Gov. Charlie Baker said he conveyed his condolences in a phone conversation with Frederickson on Friday.
“The sadness and heartbreak that carried in his voice says it all,” Baker said. “This is an incredible tragedy and a huge loss, and we all expect justice to be served for this heinous crime and trust that our judicial system will hold his murderer accountable to the highest degree.”
Baker held a moment of silence for Gannon before a news conference on Friday in which he signed a bill approved by the Legislature that calls for major reforms in the state’s criminal justice system. Baker also ordered all U.S. and state flags on state buildings lowered to half-staff in honor of the fallen officer.
According to Cape and Islands District Attorney Michael O’Keefe, Latanowich’s last known address was in Somerville, outside Boston.
Latanowich has been charged with more than 100 crimes in Massachusetts, according to court records, and has served time behind bars. Many of the charges were later dismissed.
O’Keefe said the last prison time Latanowich served was a four- to five-year sentence on gun charges. The prosecutor expressed frustration that prior charges had not resulted in more lengthy sentences.