AP NEWS

Officer who helped stop mass shooter raised in Santa Fe

May 14, 2019

Richard Bosson was driving to Colorado on Feb. 15 when he heard on the radio that a gunman had opened fire at a factory in Aurora, Ill., killing five employees and injuring several police officers.

Immediately, he wondered: Is my son in danger?

Bosson pulled over, woke his wife, Gloria Bosson, and raised the volume on the radio. “Five officers down in Aurora,” the speakers boomed.

For the next hour, Bosson said, he and his wife listened to the news, uncertain if their son, Chris Bosson — a certified sniper and SWAT team member with the Aurora Police Department — was safe.

“You fear the worst,” Richard Bosson said.

He soon discovered his son was saving lives and becoming a hero. Chris Bosson, born and raised in Santa Fe, fired at least two of six shots that killed the assailant.

Late last month, Chris Bosson and about 25 other members of Aurora’s police department were awarded the Medal of Valor — the highest honor of bravery for those who work in public safety — at an event in that city, located about 35 miles from Chicago.

Sitting near the front row with tears in their eyes, Richard and Gloria watched their son cross a stage to be recognized for his courage — proof, they said, that the 1995 graduate of Santa Fe High School is doing what he was born to do.

“He definitely found his calling,” said Richard Bosson, a former New Mexico Supreme Court justice.

“I don’t know how you can put it into words when you’re proud of your children,” added Gloria. “It’s pride that’s indescribable.”

Chris Bosson was an all-state soccer player and ran track and field for St. Michael’s High School and Santa Fe High, before attending the University of Arizona in Tuscon, Ariz., where his interest in criminology was piqued. He graduated in 2001 with a bachelor’s degree in communications.

After leaving Tucson, Bosson moved to Chicago, where he became a corrections officer for DuPage County. He joined Aurora’s police force in 2006 and was asked to apply to the department’s SWAT team in 2013. For more than six years, he’s served as a SWAT member, while also earning promotions to detective in 2017 and qualified sniper in 2018.

Through an Aurora police spokesman, Chris Bosson declined to be interviewed for this story.

Aurora police Chief Kristen Ziman said the officer’s “heroism and selfless service during our community’s great time of need demonstrates the professional care each of our officers display every day.”

Richard Bosson said over the years, his son has been in several dangerous and traumatic situations, including rescuing a woman who crashed her car into a pond in 2009.

February’s shooting, however, “was the biggest incident he’s ever had,” he said.

According to police reports made available to the public in April, Gary Martin, 45, shot five of his colleagues after being terminated from his job at the Henry Pratt Co., a valve-manufacturing firm in Aurora. Martin continued shooting as police arrived.

When Chris Bosson came to the scene, he described the warehouse as “huge, with many rows of shelves and equipment,” according to the reports. Because of the precarious layout, he made the decision to climb above the gunman, where he and members of the Naperville Police Department fired their weapons. Bosson’s shots struck Martin at least twice, once in the chest and another in the head.

Martin was found dead with six bullet wounds, one of which was believed to be self-inflicted, reports said.

As the Bossons waited at a McDonald’s near Colorado Springs, Colo., for more news about the shooting, they heard from their son’s longtime girlfriend, Megan Vaccaro, who told them he was safe.

Soon after, he called and told his parents he was OK.

Although the words were a “huge relief,” Gloria Bosson said, she’s aware “death is always a possibility” for a police officer. Any time the phone rings at strange hours, she can’t help but panic.

“You take a deep breath, you pray to God, and you hope it’s not a call from the department,” she said. “As a mom, I worry. I worry every single day.”

Since the shooting, the Bossons say they’re astounded by their son’s dedication to his work — his willingness to risk his life to help others.

“There’s no doubt” more people would have died if his son hadn’t fired his gun, Richard Bosson said.

With tears in her eyes, clinging to her husband’s, Gloria Bosson agreed.

“He’s certainly our hero,” she said.