Pittsfield Crash Backs Up Traffic On South Street
A utility pole fell on a minivan Monday morning.
Updated from original story at 11:49 a.m.; complete rewrite throughout; update to relate the minivan was was the second vehicle.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The driver of a vehicle that caused a three-car pileup and sheared off a utility pole on South Street on Monday morning was allegedly high on heroin.
According to a Fire Department report, the driver told police, "he was under the influence of heroin, having 'shot up' while driving."
Police arrested the driver and took him away in handcuffs after the northbound vehicle apparently veered into the pole, which then fell on a minivan immediately behind it. A third car following was also involved.
Crofut Street to Gamell Street was closed while the pole was being replaced. Traffic was rerouted to Holmes Road for much of the morning.
According to a Fire Department report, two engines and a ladder truck were dispatched to 460 South St., near the Lipton Mart, at 8:55 a.m.
The driver of the second vehicle was removed by firefighters and taken to Berkshire Medical Center with minor injuries. The vehicle sustained significant damage. The report by Deputy Chief Steven Peaslee stated that a Western Massachusetts Electric Co. representative informed him that "a matter of inches kept the driver from being electrocuted." The main power lines carry 13,000 volts.
The third driver remained in that vehicle until rescued by firefighters.
Man Involved in Shooting At Pittsfield Big Y Dies
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A man shot in the Big Y parking lot earlier this week has died.
Anthony Gamache, 29, of Goshen died Wednesday, the district attorney's office confirmed on Thursday. Gamache had been shot Tuesday while in the Big Y parking lot on West Street. Police have charged an 18-year-old city man with firearm charges.
"We're waiting on the results of the autopsy," said Fred Lantz, of the district attorney's office, Thursday afternoon.
The autopsy will be performed in Boston to determine the cause of death.
Gamache was shot in the the leg and was driven by two others to Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton to be treated for his injury. He reportedly needed surgery and was transferred to Baystate Medical Center in Springfield.
He was released and Wednesday evening reported feeling pain and he was rushed Cooley Dickinson, where he was pronounced dead.
The district attorney's office says 18-year-old Peter Campbell was charged Wednesday with a single count assault and battery, single count of possession of a firearm without a firearm identification card and a single count of discharging a weapon within 500 feet of a dwelling. He is being held without bail until a dangerousness hearing on Friday morning.
Pittsfield Police declined to comment on the incident.
Fire Displaces Pittsfield Family of Five
The single-family home at 52 Seymour St. suffered damage because of the fire.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A family of five has been displaced following a fire that destroyed their Seymour Street home on Monday.
The family was not home at the time but the structure was damaged so severely that the building inspector has ruled it uninhabitable.
Two dogs that were inside during the fire were rescued by firefighters — one initially and then another while fighting the fire.
"We arrived on the scene at 10:49 a.m. and had heavy smoke showing across Seymour Street with fire on the backside of the house," Deputy Chief Michael Polidoro said. "There were no occupants home at the time. Both pets were rescued from the building."
Polidoro said the fire was called as a two-alarm in order to rotate the firefighting crews. All on-duty personnel responded first and later an on-call crew took over. After an hour and a half or so, the blaze was extinguished but firefighters continued to chase down hot spots.
"The fire took a lot of time to put out because it worked its way into the walls of an older structure and got into the attic area," Polidoro said. "The fire did extensive damage to the house. The occupants will not be able to live there."
He added, "it did become a double-alarm fire for manpower because we were trying to knock it down and chase it through the house."
The family — two adults and three children — rent from the owner John Giardina. The American Red Cross has been notified. As of 2 p.m., firefighters were helping to salvage the family's items that survived the blaze — but heat damage destroyed much of the single-family home.
The fire led to the closure of Seymour Street for more than three hours.
Polidoro said the rainy weather didn't play a role in fighting the fire. The cause is still unknown but inspectors are on scene in hopes to pinpoint it.
"The crews did a good job. They really worked hard today. It stretched them to their limits but nobody complained about it," Polidoro said.
Report: Pittsfield Experiences Most Violent August in Years
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — This August was the most violent August in the last five years.
While violent crime is still overall down trending compared to other years, August showed a massive upswing of 27 violent crimes — 69 percent more than the five-year average. The upswing is reversing a trend the Police Department saw with violent crime down and property crime up.
Aggravated assault topped the list of the most committed crime in Pittsfield with 20. In other months, there were as few as four aggravated assaults.
There were also three arsons, two robberies and two rapes in August. Year to date, there have been 100 violent crimes committed in Pittsfield, which is 27 percent higher than this time last year.
"We were also seeing consistently fewer Violent Crimes this year compared to last, but for the past three months, we have drastically surpassed the number of similar crimes committed in 2013," reads a Police Department report on the month of August.
August showed an opposite trend from early in the year. In reports on the earlier months, property crime had been trending above average while violent crime was down. In recent months, the trend reversed and property crime is now trending at a rate less than last year.
"We started out the year showing a considerably higher rate of property crime occurring in the city compared to last year. Now we seem to be bridging the gap, as each month shows slightly less property crime being committed, comparatively," the report reads.
"For example, in June, we had 19 percent more property crimes compared to the same time last year. In July, we had 11 percent more, and now, in August, we have only 8 percent more. If things continue in this direction, we should show an overall lower total number of property crimes in 2014 than we had in 2013."
As of the end of August, there was 950 property crimes committed compared to 878 at the same time last year. But, August saw 133 compared to last August's 126, which shows a downtrend in the yearly totals. Larceny is the most common crime with 81 in August compared to 77 last August.
July and August both saw a lower trend in property crime than average, which is bringing the year to date numbers closer to last year.
Pittsfield Aug. 2014 Police City Stat Report
Two Students Arrested at Different Schools with Loaded Weapons
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A high school student and a college student were found with loaded weapons this week after each created a disturbance at their respective campuses.
On Tuesday night, a Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts student was arrested at the North Adams campus after becoming belligerent during an evening class. Chris LaFrance, 25, was allegedly intoxicated when campus police pepper sprayed him; upon arresting him, police said they found a loaded handgun on his person. While reportedly licensed to carry a firearm, LaFrance is facing a number of charges related to the incident and the public school where he had been training was apprised of his arrest and terminated his participation.
Pittsfield school officials say a Taconic High School student was arrested Thursday morning for creating a disturbance and a loaded gun was found on his person.
At no point was the weapon made visible to any student or staff member at Taconic, according to officials.
The Taconic administration said it is working with the Pittsfield Police Department to further investigate the matter.
"Principal Vosburgh and his staff followed Pittsfield Public School safety protocol to the letter. School administration and Pittsfield Police effectively took all appropriate measures to efficiently address the situation and safeguard the school community," said Mayor Daniel Bianchi in a statement. "I am confident in Dr. McCandless' leadership and the professionalism of school staff as we continue to collaborate with community partners."
McCandless, Pittsfield Public Schools superintendent, said safety protocols are in place at all schools and are practiced regularly. The school community and parents will be kept informed, he said.
"The safety and concern of our students is the highest priority. All schools in the district have safety response protocols and procedures in place. Families are encouraged to partner with the school administration regarding any information that could be of assistance to help continue to maintain a safe and secure environment," according to a press release from City Hall.
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