ORANGE – On Monday, March 20, 2023, at approximately 3:44 a.m., Officers Andrew Starbard and Kyle Johnson of the Orange Police Department were dispatched to the area of 600 North Main Street following a 911 call from a man who said that several people – including an individual named “Alex” – were trying to kill him. The 911 caller was later identified as Seth Bozeman, 19, of Springfield, MA.
“Officer Johnson and I arrived on scene and were immediately met with Bozeman on North Main Street just before the Cross Road/Oxbow Road intersection,” wrote Officer Starbard in his Narrative for the incident. “I observed blood on Bozeman’s head, face, neck and hands.”
In a frantic state, Bozeman told Officer Starbard that three men stabbed him. He named two of them: Alex Santana, 31, of Linda Avenue in Chicopee, and Ali Ayala, 22, of Groveland Street, Springfield. Bozeman said there was a third perpetrator, but he didn’t know the man’s name. The third suspect was later identified as Juan Rodriguez, 31, of Washburn Street, Springfield. Police say the suspects were acquaintances of Bozeman.
Bozeman added that the three individuals were travelling in a gray Chrysler minivan.
“I then observed and heard a minivan take off at a high rate of speed further down Oxbow Road,” wrote Officer Starbard in his Narrative. “A short time later, I observed the minivan approaching our position (heading south). Bozeman stated that it was the minivan. As the minivan passed, I illuminated the driver with my flashlight and yelled for them to stop. The minivan took off at a high rate of speed southbound. Later, I confirmed the operator to be Ayala by his RMV photo. I also later confirmed that Ayala does not have a MA driver’s license and only has MA identification.”
Officers Starbard and Johnson returned to their cruiser and pursued the minivan, which was flying down South Main Street – Route 202 – at speeds that exceeded 100 mph at times.
“During this pursuit, I observed high rates of speed (top speed of 105 mph), numerous marked lanes violations and passing violations,” explained Officer Starbard in his Narrative. “Numerous times on Rt. 202, I observed items being thrown out of the passenger side of the minivan, which I believed were thrown in an attempt to disable my cruiser. I later confirmed that these items were drywall screws. My cruiser sustained damage to the grill, bumper, hood and windshield.”
The officers chased the minivan through multiple towns. During the pursuit, the Massachusetts State Police joined in to assist. Shortly after the minivan reached Belchertown, Ayala lost control of the minivan, struck a guardrail, and eventually came to a stop in a field. The suspects then exited the vehicle and hightailed it into a densely wooded area nearby.
Together with a State Police K9 handler, Officers Starbard and Johnson followed the police dog’s track, which eventually led to Alex Santana in the woods.
According to Officer Starbard, the K9 was “deployed” to attack Santana because he repeatedly resisted arrest.
“The K9 was deployed and bit Santana’s leg. After being repeatedly ordered to stop resisting, I observed Santana strike the K9 with a closed fist at least three times,” wrote Officer Starbard in his Narrative. “During a search of Santana’s person, approximately one gram of cocaine was retrieved from his pocket.”
As police were searching for the third suspect, the owner of the minivan – a Springfield resident – contacted the Chicopee Police Department to report his vehicle stolen.
Police eventually located all three suspects and took them into custody.
Officer Starbard stayed in Belchertown with Officer Johnson to deal with the suspects while Lieutenant Adam Cooley of the Orange Police Department went to Athol Hospital to gather more information from the victim.
“Lieutenant Cooley informed me that Bozeman had two lacerations to his head that were bleeding,” wrote Officer Starbard in his Narrative. “After hearing from Bozeman, Chief James Sullivan drove to the area of the event and located a folding knife that was locked open, on top of a snow bank right where the vehicle stopped.”
During the booking process, Officer Starbard said Ayala threatened Bozeman while on a call with his wife, saying, “I’m going to get him.”
Santana was charged with attempted murder, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, receiving stolen property +$1,200, and malicious destruction of property +$1,200, drug possession (Class B), and resisting arrest.
Ayala was charged with fail to stop for police, attempted murder, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, receiving stolen property +$1,200, malicious destruction of property +$1,200, speeding, reckless operation of a motor vehicle, unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, and marked lanes violation. There were also three warrants out for his arrest.
Rodriguez was charged with attempted murder, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, receiving stolen property +$1,200, malicious destruction of property +$1,200, speeding
All three suspects were arraigned in Orange District Court on March 20 (the morning they were arrested). At the Commonwealth’s request, all they were held without right to bail pending a dangerousness hearing, that was scheduled for all of them on March 24 and continued to March 28. During their dangerousness hearing, all three men were determined to be dangerous and are currently being held in jail until July 26, 2023.
At the Commonwealth’s request, all three men’s charge of attempted murder was amended to armed assault with intent to murder.
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Disclaimer 2: If you are wondering why the incident in this story was from late March (you’re an a$$hole that doesn’t understand my business model, just kidding🃏), that’s because I had to file FOIA request(s) to get the court documents for the incident. FOIAs are time consuming.