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Pittsfield Man Charged with Setting A-Mart Convenience Store Blaze

Staff Reports

Screen capture taken from video by Patricia Devinez  here.
Update: PITTSFIELD,  Mass. — A Pittsfield man has been arrested in relation to the devastating fire that destroyed the A-Mart convenience store on Tuesday night.
 
Thomas Roberts, 51, was arrested Wednesday on charges of arson and injuring a firefighter. 
 
Authorities determined the blaze as suspicious after an investigation by the Detective Bureau and Crime Scene Services, along with fire investigators. The building is most likely a total loss. 
 
Roberts was located by members of the police anti-crime unit in a motel within the city. He is being charged with injuring a firefighter because one Pittsfield firefighter was taken to Berkshire Medical Center for a shoulder injury.
 
The investigators are thanking everyone who provided information, and businesses that provided access to their video surveillance systems, which enabled them to quickly resolve the case.

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Posted: 1:48 p.m., Oct. 16, 2019

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The double-alarm fire that destroyed the A-Mart Convenience & Liquor Store on Tuesday night is under investigation. 

 
Fire Chief Thomas Sammons said the structure was fully involved in flames when firefighters arrive just before 10:30 p.m.
 
"What we know for sure is the business closed at 10, and at 10:24 there was extensive fire in the loft area of the ceiling," he said on Wednesday. The chief said he has been in touch with investigators who are still searching for a cause. 
 
The blaze was called in by a passerby who saw flames on the outside of the building at 524 North St. Sammons said firefighters made an initial entry into the structure and realized it was much more extensive than first expected. 
 
"It was already running the length of that portion of the building," he said. "That whole section was involved in the ceiling area." 
 
Firefighters made a trench cut in the roof and found fire within the ceiling space. 
 
"This was way back from where the initial fire was on the outside of the building," Sammons said. "So nobody was allowed inside or on the roof."
 
The A-Mart is located in the western portion of the L-shaped building; a barber shop is in the section at the back of the parking lot and that parallels North Street.
 
Fire crews directed streams of water into the building and North Street was closed between Linden Street and Madison Avenue. The initial working group called a double alarm to bring in more manpower with another truck company, and an additional engine company and a ladder truck from Lenox and Dalton.
 
Sammons estimated it took about two hours to bring the inferno under control and crews remained on scene all night putting out hotspots. 
 
Images on social media showed heavy smoke billowing up from North Street and flames within the building. 
 
The popular store was open from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. and had offered a variety of grocery, pharmacy and convenience needs, including liquor. The one thing it didn't have was gasoline. 
 
On Wednesday morning, the area around the building was cordoned off and a fire truck was on scene. The store's jaunty sign still towered over the plaza but the owners of the structure declined to speak to media.  
 
The business had been run by a local family for some three decades before being purchased by a Chelmsford company, Sonal Patel LLC, for $1,113,691 in September 2017. 
 
The A-Mart section of the building is a total loss but the barbershop side was saved. 
 
"The crews worked very hard and were able to prevent it going to the other side, the barbershop," Sammons said. "So they were able to save part of the building, at least."
 
The chief confirmed that one firefighter was taken to Berkshire Medical Center for treatment of a shoulder injury. The individual was treated and released with his arm in a sling but is expected to recover. 
 
"It was a lot of hard work and the guys did a great job," the chief said. 
 
Complete write-thru 1:48 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019; original post 1:24 a.m., Oct. 15.
     

Pittsfield Man Struck, Killed by Tractor-Trailer

Staff Reports
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A local man was killed Monday evening after being struck by a tractor-trailer on Route 8.
 
Ernest Millette, 73, of Pittsfield was pronounced dead on the scene in the area of 550 Cheshire Road.
 
At about 7:12 p.m., a 2019 semi-truck operated by Matthew Osak, 34, of Lee, was northbound and turning left into Unistress. Upon making the turn, the vehicle struck Millette, who was walking in the driveway.
 
Pittsfield Police and Fire, state police, Berkshire County sheriff deputies, and County Ambulance responded to the scene.
 
The crash remains under investigation by Officer Michael Silver of the Pittsfield Police Department Traffic Unit.
 
     

Adams Man Charged With Murder In Columbus Avenue Shooting

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — An Adams man has been charged in the murder of 32-year-old Stephanie Olivieri of Yonkers, N.Y.
 
Tyler Sumner, 25, was arraigned in Central Berkshire District Court on a single count of murder on Monday.
 
He is being held at the Berkshire County House of Correction without bail.
 
Sumner was arrested in Adams on Saturday by Pittsfield Police, with assistance from Adams Police and North Adams Police. The charge is in connection with the Aug. 25 shooting on Columbus Avenue in Pittsfield that killed Olivieri.
 
Olivieri, a native of Pittsfield, suffered a single gunshot wound while sitting in a silver sedan near the intersection of Columbus and South John Street in the early morning hours that Sunday. Investigators do not believe that Olivieri was the intended target of the shooting.
 
This investigation has been led by the Pittsfield Police Department with assistance from the state police detectives assigned to the Berkshire District attorney's office and the Berkshire County Crime Task Force.
 
"I send my heartfelt condolences to the Olivieri family for their tragic loss," District Attorney Andrea Harrington said.
 
"I am exceedingly proud of this investigation. It has been highly collaborative with excellent leadership from PPD. The tireless efforts of the investigative team in the pursuit of justice for Ms. Olivieri cannot be overstated."
 
Olivieri attended the former St. Joseph's High and Pittsfield High and left her parents, a brother and two young children. Her family has started a GoFundMe. 
     

Former Williams Student Convicted of Rape

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Former Williams College student Yoonsang Bae has been found guilty of raping a classmate five years ago.
 
He was convicted on Friday in Berkshire Superior Court by Judge Michael Callan of a single count of rape relating to an on-campus incident in 2014.
 
The 27-year-old Bae will be sentenced on Friday, Sept. 13.
 
The victim, who was 19 at the time, testified that after attending an event with Bae, she returned to his room for a drink. She then got sick from the alcohol and Bae placed her in his bed where she passed out. When she awoke, Bae was raping her. He refused to stop despite her protests. The two were both Williams College students at the time.
 
She reported the rape to New York authorities, contacted the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, and underwent a sexual assault examination at a hospital in New York. Williams College investigated the incident and suspended Bae for two years. The Williamstown Police Department conducted a criminal investigation.
 
"I want to thank the victim in this case for her strength and courage," District Attorney Andrea Harrington said. "She is a hero for coming forward and sharing her story. My office will not plea rape charges down to lesser offenses when we have victims who wish to go to trial.
 
"When I took office in January, my first priority was to seek justice for victims by aggressively prosecuting violent crime. This is what being tough on crime should look like."
 
Bae was indicted on a single count of rape on Aug. 9, 2017. Prosecutors say he had been offered an agreement by the prior administration that would have allowed him to plead to the lesser charge of indecent assault and battery and that the case would have been continued without a finding of guilt. Bae did not accept the plea agreement.
 
After taking office, Harrington said she did not extend any plea bargains and opted to pursue the rape charge instead, culminating in Firday's guilty verdict.
 
The case was prosecuted by Stephanie Ilberg.
     

Pittsfield Police Arrest Man on DUI, Firearms Charges

The handgun police say they found in the defendant's vehicle.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A man allegedly under the influence took officers on a high-speed chase after a Shot Spotter notification early Tuesday morning until crashing through the fence at St. Joseph's Church and hitting a tree.  
 
Domingo Sobers, 28, is being charged with numerous motor vehicle offenses, including driving under the influene, as possessing a firearm without a license and discharging one within 500 feet of a building.
 
According to a report by Lt. John Soules, officers responded to the Shot Spotter activation at the intersection of Daniels Avenue and Union Street at about 3:29 a.m. Evidence of a shooting was later recovered in that area. 
 
Dispatch reported to responding officers that a Jeep Cherokee may have been involved. While responding to the scene, Officer Michael Lupisella observed a Jeep Cherokee operating one street away from the Shot Spotter location. 
 
The Jeep failed to stop at a stop sign, he said, and he attempted to initiate a traffic stop. The Jeep did not stop but took off at a high rate of speed and ran several stop signs. Police say the driver operated it the wrong way down the one-way portion of Bradford Street. 
 
The vehicle, then travelling eastbound, crossed all lanes of North Street without stopping. It struck the curb on the east side of the street, crashed through the church's iron fence and struck a tree on the church property. The fence and church lawn were damaged. The Jeep's airbags deployed and the vehicle sustained considerable damage. 
 
The operator was the lone occupant of the vehicle. Officers stated that he exhibited signs of being under the influence of alcohol. Ambulance personnel responded to the scene but Sobers declined medical attention. Officers said that when looked inside of his vehicle, they observed a 9mm handgun in plain view within the interior. 
 
As a result of the incident, Sobers was placed under arrest and charged with the following charges. Sobers was to be arraigned  in Central Berkshire District Court on the following charges: marked lanes violation, failure to stop at a red light, improper operation of a motor vehicle, operation under the influence of liquor, negligent operation of a motor vehicle, failure to stop for police, possession of firearm without a license and discharge of a firearm within 500 feet of a building.
     
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