Death hits a small-town police force with the same cruel finality it visits upon big-city cop shops.

Auburn Patrolman Ronald Tarentino died on the night shift.

Tarentino was apparently shot to death by a 35-year-old Worcester man who had served time in state prison.

It was around 12:30 Sunday morning when Tarentino, a 42-year-old husband and father of three, stopped a car driven by Jorge Zambrano on Rochdale Street near Stoneyville Pond in the usually mellow Central Massachusetts town.

At the time of his death, Tarentino was in his third year on the Auburn force, having transferred from neighboring Leicester, which the Tarentino family calls home.

Authorities describe Tarentino’s interception of Zambrano as “routine”.

Within seconds—for reasons still under investigation—Tarentino was dead, and Zambrano was on the run.

A manhunt led by the Massachusetts state police with assistance from local police and the FBI and Secret Service cornered Zambrano in the late afternoon five miles away in the town of Oxford.

Zambrano managed to elude immediate capture by using crawl spaces in the duplex to shift his location.

Surrounded, Zambrano, according to police, emerged from the bedroom closet in which he had been hiding.

Gunfire ensued. A veteran state trooper was wounded in the shoulder. And Zambrano was shot dead—about 18 hours after killing Tarentino.

The as yet unidentified trooper was scheduled for surgery and is expected to make a recovery.

Sunday night, an estimated 300 Leicester residents held a candlelight vigil in front of the town hall in honor of Tarentino and in solidarity with his family.

Gov. Charlie Baker ordered flags around the state to be flown at half mast.