Springfield, Mass., Officer Survives Stabbing Attempt By Suspected Arsonist

Mar 14, 2019

The police commissioner in Springfield, Massachusetts, says one of her officers is lucky to be alive. That's after his protective vest saved him from a stabbing attempt by an arson suspect.

Police said the suspect, Ruben Barrero, had been thrown out of a house by his mother on Wednesday.

They said he later returned and set the porch on fire.

When police caught up to Barrero, they said he tried to stab Officer Greg Vatrano — but hit him in his trauma plate, a hard part of his bulletproof vest located on the chest.

Interim Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood said the required piece of equipment saved the officer.

"If you had a doubt on wearing them, then you would certainly put yours on today," Clapprood said. "They know how dangerous it is, and how fast things can happen. So we started the protocol that, 'Hey, if you're going out to do your job as a police officer, you will wear a ballistic vest.'" 

Clapprood said Vatrano continued to struggle with Barrero even after the attempted stabbing.

"I don't think he even realized that the man had tried to stab him. He was fighting for his life," Clapprood said. "They ended up on the ground, and Mr. Barrero ended up on top of him, and was still trying to hit him in the head, so he went into survival mode."

Vatrano suffered a broken hand in the struggle, while Barrero is facing attempted murder, assault and arson charges.

Mayor Domenic Sarno told reporters gathered outside Springfield police headquarters that Vatrano is a cousin of his on Sarno's mother's side. The officer has been in the Springfield Police Department since May 2015.