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Pittsfield Police Offer Safety Tips After Walkers, Joggers Accosted

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — An unidentified man has been accosting walkers and joggers in in the city's southeast side since last Tuesday. 
 
None of the victims were injured in any of the reported incidents, police say, but there have been several complaints reported over the past week. It is unknown if the same man is responsible for all of the violations.
 
The suspect, in all instances, is described being in his 20s, of Caucasian or Hispanic decent, with dark hair, facial hair, and a thin to medium build.
 
Pittsfield residents are being asked to report any suspicious activity relating to persons matching the above physical description by immediately calling 911.
 
Additionally, the following safety tips are being published by Pittsfield Police as a reminder to all residents who are enjoying the outdoors by walking, jogging, or running:
 
• Plan your outing. Tell a family member or friend where you are going and the time you expect to be back.
 
• Know where telephones are located along the course or carry a cell phone.
 
• Wear an identification tag or carry a driver's license. If you don't have a place to carry your ID, write your name, phone number, and blood type on the inside of your athletic shoe. Include any medical information.
 
• Don't wear jewelry or carry cash.
 
• Wear reflective material.
 
• Stay alert at all times. The more aware you are, the less vulnerable you are.
 
• Run or walk with a partner or a dog.
 
• Don't wear headsets. If you wear them you won't hear an approaching car or attacker. Listen to your surroundings.
 
• Exercise in familiar areas. Know which businesses or stores are open.
 
• Vary your route.
 
• Avoid unpopulated areas, deserted streets, and overgrown trails. Especially avoid poorly lighted areas at night.
 
• Run clear of parked cars or bushes.
 
• Ignore verbal harassment. Use discretion in acknowledging strangers. Look directly at others and be observant, but keep your distance and keep moving.
 
• Run against traffic so you can observe approaching automobiles.
 
• Trust your intuition about a person or an area. React based on that intuition and avoid areas you feel unsure about.
 
• Be careful if anyone in a car asks you for directions — if you answer, keep at least a full arm's length from the car.
 
• If you think you are being followed, change direction and head for open stores, theaters, or a lighted house.
 
• Have your door key ready before you reach your home.
 
• Call police immediately if something happens to you or someone else, or you notice anyone out of the ordinary.
     

Four Arrested on Gun, Drug Charges After Pittsfield Car Chase

Staff Reports
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Four people were arrested on firearm and drug offenses following a traffic stop Monday evening.
 
Police say the department's anti-crime unit conducted a motor vehicle stop on Lincoln Street at about 7 p.m. As the officers approached the vehicle, it took off at a high rate of speed. Police pursued the vehicle and saw a firearm thrown out of the window.
 
Eventually, the driver pulled the vehicle over near the intersection of Fourth Street and Curtis Street.
 
Javan Rodriguez, 20, of Pittsfield was the driver of the vehicle. The passengers were Carey Pilot, 44, of Pittsfield, Samuel Thomason, 21, of Lenox, and Thomas Tobin, 43, of Pittsfield. There was also a juvenile, identified as Pilot's daughter, in the vehicle. 
 
The four adults were all arrested and charged with numerous crimes.
     

Retired Pittsfield Firefighter Saves Two Dogs From Burning Home

By Andy McKeever
iBerkshires Staff
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — When retired firefighter Matthew Kudlate returned to his New Hampshire Avenue home Monday afternoon, he noticed black smoke billowing from his neighbor's house. That's when his instincts kicked in.
 
"I was just out for a drive, I pulled up to the house and there was heavy black smoke pouring out of the eaves. I called the Fire Department. I went into the back door, I know the neighbors and wanted to make sure they were out of there. I knew they had two dogs and I was able to get them out of the back door," Kudlate said.
 
Kudlate knew one of his neighbors was disabled and could struggle to get out in the case of a fire. He did a quick search and found nobody inside. 
 
He then chased after a poodle, which was running around the house, and a golden retriever, which didn't want to move. He pulled each out of them from the home.
 
"They fought me every step of the way. One was a bit larger, the other was fast and running around," Kudlate said. "They were scared, of course, and were nipping at me on the way out."
 
As he pulled the last one out, the Fire Department arrived at the scene.
 
"They got in quick, pulled a line, and saved a good portion of the home," said Fire Captain Neil Myers. "It was a pretty textbook save."
 
Firefighters confined the fire to the second floor of the home of the family with two children. It isn't known what caused the blaze yet, but the department was able to limit the damage. 
 
Myers said there is heavy smoke damage on the second floor, mostly confined to the front bedroom where it began. There is also some heat and smoke damage to rooms in the back portion of the second floor. The first floor sustained water damage. Myers credited the firefighters on scene for knocking the fire down quickly, limiting the amount of damage. 
 
Nobody was injured in the blaze, nor were there any animals harmed. Part of the reason for that is because of Kudlate.
 
"It was an instinct. I was a Pittsfield firefighter for 10 years. I had to retire because of an injury. It was just instinctual to make sure everybody was out of the house," Kudlate said. 
     

Identity of Body Found Saturday in Pittsfield Released

Staff Reports
Police vehicles blocked a waste container on 771 Tyler and evidence was being collected on Saturday.

Updated with new information at 7:12 p.m.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The body of a 22-year-old Pittsfield man was discovered in a trash roll-off behind a Tyler Street business late Saturday afternoon, according to the Berkshire district attorney's office. 

 
Investigators believe that Louis E. Ely, of Briggs Avenue, climbed into the climbed into the container. Foul play is not suspected in his death. 
 
The discovery a body had been rumored and there was a heavy police presence at a parking lot at 771 Tyler St. on Saturday. Police, at the time, declined to confirm or deny the discovery.
 
Police crime scene tape was stretched in front of the waste container at the end of a parking lot adjacent 771 Tyler on late Saturday afternoon. Several Pittsfield Police vehicles were at the scene and one investigator in a white coverall was collecting evidence. 
 
An autopsy was conducted today by Associate Medical Examiner Dr. Robert Welton at the Holyoke Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. The determination of the cause and manner of death are pending further toxicological and other testing.  
 
The investigation is being conducted by members of the Pittsfield Police Department. 
     

Former Pittsfield Officer Sentenced for Stealing From Police Union

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A former Pittsfield Police officer sentenced on Monday afternoon after pleading guilty to stealing more than $200,000 the Pittsfield Patrol Police Union.

Jeffrey D. Coco, 44, former union president, will serve up to 20 months in the House of Correction.

Coco was fired in November 2015 after some two months on administrative leave after an internal affairs investigation uncovered numerous improprieties with the union's accounts and fundraisers.

He pleaded guilty to two counts of larceny, ongoing and continuing offense, and a single count of identity theft in Central Berkshire District Court on Monday.

Judge John Agostini sentenced him to concurrent 20-month sentences for the larcenies and three years' probation on the identity theft. During the probationary period, Coco is to refrain from using illegal drugs and undergo counseling and drug testing. He will begin serving his sentence on April 3, 2017.    

Coco serving in various offices, including treasurer, of the union between January 2008 and July 2015. During that time, he generated a false document requesting access to certain funds.

The investigation was conducted State Police Detectives assigned to the district attorney's office with the assistance of members of the Pittsfield Police Department.      

     
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