A gunman killed his ex-wife and then commandeered a small plane and swooped over Boston for three hours, strafing Logan Airport and firing at baseball fans leaving Fenway Park, authorities said Wednesday.
Alfred James Hunter III awaited arraignment Wednesday on charges of killing his former wife, Elvira, in front of their 5-year-old son Tuesday night.The 42-year-old licensed pilot took to the skies after the slaying in an aerial shooting spree during which he buzzed the control tower at Logan four times before landing with just five minutes' worth of fuel, authorities said.
"The fourth time . . . the controllers were directed to literally vacate the tower and relocate to the radar room until further notice," said Michael Ciccarelli, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration.
No injuries were reported from the shots fired from the plane.
Trooper Barbara Bennett said authorities decided to track the two-seat Cessna by radar from the ground and wait for it to run out of fuel instead of sending a helicopter after it because "you'd be a sitting duck in the air."
"There was a high degree of frustration for authorities on the ground, but it wouldn't have made sense to go up after him," Bennett said.
Hunter's flight took him over the Kenmore Square neighborhood, where the Boston Red Sox had just finished a game. Police found two shell casings nearby. He also flew under a bridge over Boston Harbor and buzzed several other neighborhoods and the post office where he worked, authorities said.
"He kept dive-bombing it there," said Richard Serino, a deputy superintendent of Boston Emergency Medical Services. "The people were saying it looked like he was going to crash, then he pulled up and did a couple of turns."
Hunter was captured peacefully when he landed at the airport shortly after 1 a.m. No weapons were found. Police said they did not know how many shots were fired from the plane. Two casings and two live shells were in the aircraft.
The trouble began in Danvers, 30 miles north of Boston, when Hunter shot his ex-wife three times at her home with a rifle in front of their son, Steven, said Danvers police Sgt. Richard Landers. Trooper Mark Lynch said the couple, divorced two years ago, had appeared in court Tuesday, but he declined to say why.
Hunter's wife was believed to be in her mid-30s.
After the shooting, Hunter fled in his van, tried but failed to wave a car down with his gun and then stole a car at gunpoint at a restaurant in Peabody.
Hunter drove the stolen car to an airport in Beverly, where he took the plane, Landers said. Robert Golder, a 21-year-old flight instructor, said Hunter, wielding a rifle, ordered him to start the plane and leave the cockpit.