Police Report Adds Few Details About Harvard Yard Death

Cambridge Police report reveals age, gun description in Memorial Church death

Karen G. Heredia

Police investigate the scene of a fatal shooting on the steps of Memorial Church on Saturday.

The man who died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound Saturday on the top step of Memorial Church appeared to be a white male in his early to mid-twenties, according to an incident report released by the Cambridge Police Department yesterday.

The deceased, who appears to have been unaffiliated with Harvard, was found in a pool of his own blood with a "silver revolver style handgun" and a gunshot wound to his head, according to the report.

Officers, who responded after the shooting was reported at 10:49 a.m., found a bullet lodged in a nearby column of Memorial Church, according to the report submitted by Cambridge Police Sergeant Darcy Lowe on Saturday.

Witnesses informed the police that a tour group of 20 to 30 people was standing by the church when the male stood behind the group’s tour guide and then shot himself, according to the report.

The Harvard University Police Department led the police response to the incident, placing police tape around the perimeter of the scene before the Cambridge police arrived. HUPD declined to release its report on the incident.


The Middlesex District Attorney’s Office, the CPD, and HUPD declined to provide the man’s name. Messages left with the Mass. Office of the Chief Medical Examiner were not immediately returned.

University officials described the death as an unfortunate and unexpected event, though they said that they were pleased with HUPD’s rapid response to the incident.

"I really don’t know how to describe it. It’s just a tragedy," said John "Jay" L. Ellison, associate dean of the College. "We’re an open urban campus and sometimes things happen."

Because HUPD determined that the death did not present an ongoing threat to the campus, Harvard did not immediately employ "Message Me," the University’s emergency alert system, according to Ellison.

Over an hour after the incident took place, College administrators reached out to students, informing them of what had happened and asking them to seek help if they felt affected by the death.

Director of Behavioral Health and Academic Counseling Paul J. Barreira said that a "handful of students" sought mental health assistance from University Health Services in reaction to the incident.

Barreira said that the Freshman Dean’s Office asked freshman proctors in particular to look out for "any students of concern" because most freshmen live in Harvard Yard, where the death took place.

"We’ve asked the proctors to reach out to any students that seem like they’re upset or distressed," said Sue Brown, resident dean of Elm Yard.

Though days have passed since the man’s death, Barreira urged students to continue to seek help if they have been affected by the incident.

"I would always encourage students that if they’re feeling distressed to go ahead and talk to us," Barreira said.

—Staff writer Eric P. Newcomer can be reached at

—Staff writer Naveen N. Srivatsa can be reached at