In quiet coastal town, ‘unassuming’ man turned racist killer


WINTHROP, Mass. — Residents of a secluded, Boston-area coastal community are trying to come to terms with the shooting death of two Black residents in what authorities say was a vicious, racially motivated killing over the weekend.

Nathan Allen, who was living in Winthrop at the time of the shooting, was not on the radar of law enforcement. His social media accounts also gave no hints that he held racist beliefs or might explain why he crashed a stolen truck and then gunned down a Black retired state trooper and a Black Air Force veteran.

Neighbors in his condo community said the 28-year-old Allen struck them as just another tenant.

“I just couldn’t believe it,” said Mary Harrington, 75, who lives a few doors down from Allen in the complex, earlier this week. “It’s kind of scary knowing someone next door is that sick.”

Officials in the secluded coastal community near Logan Airport are holding a town hall vigil to honor the victims Thursday night. But little has been disclosed about what triggered Allen to lash out, leaving some fearful and anxious in town, which is nearly all-white but surrounded by some of New England’s largest Latino communities.

David Green and Ramona Cooper were each shot multiple times by Allen after he crashed a stolen box truck into a residential building not far from his condo. Allen was killed by police moments later.

The mayhem was a stark contrast to Allen’s online persona. Just days before the attack, in what would be his final Facebook post, he wished his wife, Audrey, a happy birthday, adding a picture of the couple kissing on their wedding day last year.

Allen also frequently posted pictures of the couple’s pet rabbit, Sigmund, and expressed support for rabbit adoption groups.

On Instagram, he proudly posted videos of his sparring matches at a Boston boxing gym he’d joined. And he devoted an album of photos on Facebook from the couple’s travels through Europe years earlier.

His social media accounts have since been taken down.

Prosecutors say the genial persona belied anti-Semitic and anti-Black sentiments Allen expressed privately in his handwritten notebook.

Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins hasn’t released those writings other than to say Allen drew swastikas and wrote about whites being “apex predators” and the superior race.

“When he became radicalized, or when he started believing these things, we are not certain yet,” she said Monday. “But I am confident saying that there was hate in this man’s heart.”

It’s unclear where Allen was headed on the day of the shooting. He encountered several other people who were not Black and didn’t harm them, including a motorist who said Allen jumped into his car after the crash and demanded he drive off. When the driver refused, Allen simply got out.

Moments later, he shot Cooper, a 60-year-old Air Force veteran, three times in the back. He then shot Green, a 68-year-old retired Massachusetts State Police trooper, four times in the head and three times in the torso as witnesses said he was attempting to intervene.

Allen’s wife and family haven’t spoken publicly about the shooting. Earlier this week, a woman answered the door buzzer at the couple’s condo but quickly hung up.

Fatima Elhoud, who lives in the Allen’s building and also didn’t know the couple, said she was surprised her neighbor could have been so racist, considering the complex was fairly diverse.

“It’s definitely scary, especially if you have kids,” the native of Morocco said as she and her husband walked their two young sons to the complex’s pool one recent afternoon. “We’ve lived here more than 20 years, and it’s always been safe.”

Some 12 miles (about 19 kilometers) away, in Boston’s Brighton neighborhood, a man who answered the locked door at Boston Boxing said Allen had not been seen at the club in more than a year and declined to comment further.

The club, in a since deleted Facebook post, thanked Allen last summer for raising $800 from family and friends for his 28th birthday to benefit the club’s summer youth program.

Allen also donated to the House Rabbit Network, a local rabbit adoption group, and encouraged others to support them on his social media accounts. The organization didn’t respond to an email seeking comment.

Allen grew up in Wareham, a town near Cape Cod that’s a center of the cranberry industry. He was one of two sons of a Navy medic and elementary school teacher.

Allen met his wife as a student at the nearby University of Massachusetts in Dartmouth. The two graduated in 2014, the year after fellow student Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and his brother bombed the 2013 Boston Marathon, killing three people and injuring scores more.

“It almost didn’t seem real,” Allen told a local reporter during a campus vigil at the time, The Boston Globe reports.

He graduated in January with a doctorate in physical therapy.

The Allens were married last September at the suburban Worcester nursing home where Mazzola’s beloved grandfather lived.

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