PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A fire at 11 Swan St. has left a young family homeless and killed two pets.
No one was home at the time the fire broke out Friday afternoon. Fire Chief Robert Czerwinski said the flames were shooting out of the front and back of the house when firefighters arrived at about 3 p.m. The property is at the end of a short lane off Ridge Avenue near Pontoosuc Lake.
Both the first and second floor of the single-family were destroyed and the famiy's belongings were considered a complete loss. Shane and Shannon Doolan and their infant daughter had moved into the 30-year-old rental property about three weeks ago.
Two dogs died in the fire but a third was able to flee the burning building and was taken in by a neighbor.
The cause of the fire has not been established but was believed to have started in the kitchen. The state fire marshal was on his way to the scene late Friday.
The owners of the home are listed as John and Susan Michalski of Easthampton.
Lenox, Lanesborough and Dalton fire departments assisted on standby and County Ambulance responded to the scene.
Police Surround Reportedly Armed Pittsfield Man
Staff Reports On: 07:00PM / Saturday July 21, 2012
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A large force of police from around central Berkshire County tracked down and surrounded a man believed to be armed in Cheshire on Saturday afternoon. Multiple Pittsfield police units were seen traveling north in search of a man driving a black Lincoln.
Sometime after 5 p.m., SWAT officers and a Crisis Intervention officer were dispatched to a location at West Mountain Road in Cheshire, which authorities gleaned from a trace of the individual's cell phone. The man was said to have made threats that he might do harm to himself.
Calls to dispatch indicated that the man's girlfriend told police he had a gun with a full clip, and eight additional rounds of ammunition. State police confirmed that the incident was ongoing.
Law enforcement drew a perimeter around the area where the man is believed to be, still in his car, while the man's girlfriend carried out a conversation over the phone.
At 6:25, Pittsfield Police Department released an announcement that a major police operation was in progress.
"Operation One Team One Mission is in progress. Street level suppression and interdiction with PPD, MSP, BCSD, Probation and other LEOs."
This incident is ongoing. We will post updates as they become available.
Update: Andrew Apple, 27, of Pittsfield was arrested and charged with possession of a firearm without a license and larceny of a firearm shortly before 7 p.m. The team "missions" apparently referred to an operation by Pittsfield Police in the city.
Missing Pittsfield Child Reportedly Returned to Father
Staff Reports On: 06:02PM / Wednesday July 18, 2012
Police are searching for Alexis Hodges, who is with her mother, Amanda Babcock.
Update, Friday, July 20, 11:42 a.m.: Alexis Hodges was reportedly returned to her father in Central Berkshire District Court on Friday morning, according to witnesses. We have placed a call with the police asking for confirmation.
Police have notified that all national and local missing child alerts have been canceled.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Pittsfield police are asking for anyone with information regarding the whereabouts of 3-year-old Alexis Lee Hodges and her mother, Amanda Babcock, to contact them as they continue to investigate a missing persons report filed by the child's father last week.
Michael Hodges says he was awarded full custody of daughter Alexis on the morning of July 12, at a court proceeding at which Babcock failed to appear. Hodges had indicated on his Facebook as early as 9 that night that police were trying to locate the child's mother. The following day, according to Hodges, he filed a report that the child was missing. Hodges and friends began posting photos of the child as missing over the weekend and by early Wednesday had reached a significant enough volume to draw attention from local media.
"She's 3 and she's pretty much fending for herself right now. The situation that she's in was put on by her mother and the situation she's in is not right. My daughter doesn't deserve this. My daughter deserves to be home with me," Michael Hodges told YNN in an interview late Wednesday evening.
Authorities have said the case is not being considered a kidnapping because the mother of the child has not been served notification of the father's custody, but her whereabouts have remained unknown. According to their alert Wednesday afternoon, initial information indicated that Babcock, along with her boyfriend, Jeffrey Kucka, were planning to leave the area for Colorado. This was not corroborated, and police now say they believe the trio to be still in the local area.
Pittsfield Police have received reports from the public that the three have been seen camping in various locations locally within the past few weeks. Police in Lanesborough had previously received a complaint about a month ago that Kucka, along with his girlfriend and her child, were staying off a rural road near Riverside Cemetery, according to a nearby neighbor.
Relatives of Babcock indicated that she, the child, and Kucka had not been staying at their last known address for some time, and were possibly indigent. Pittsfield police similarly suggested that they may be staying outdoors or at a friends house.
They are believed to be traveling in a green, 1996 Jeep Cherokee Sport with the license plate of 588EE3. They have ties to Williamstown, Lanesborough and Hancock, Police are reporting.
Anyone with information about the possible whereabouts of these three individuals is asked to call Pittsfield Police immediately.
Det. Nick DeSantis: 413-448-9700 Ext. 303
Capt. Patrick Barry: 413-448-9700 Ext. 606
PPD also has the capability to accept anonymous tips online and via text: PITTIP plus your message and send it to 847411.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Police are trying to locate 3-year-old Alexis Hodges, who is believed to be with her mother either camping for with friends.
Police released a statement on Wednesday calling for information about the whereabouts of Hodges, her mother, Amanda Babcock, and Babcock's boyfriend, Jeffrey Kucka. Police say they want to find them and check the well-being of Hodges.
Initial reports suggest Babcock was planning to leave the state and travel to Colorado but that information had not been corroborated, Police said.
Information indicates that all three are still in the county and are either staying with friends or camping. They are believed to be traveling in a green, 1996 Jeep Cherokee Sport with the license plate of 588EE3. They have ties to Williamstown, Lanesborough and Hancock, Police are reporting.
Babcock and Hodges have been entered into the National Crime Information Center as Missing and Endangered Subjects.
Anyone who has seen or have had contact with the three people are asked to contact Police at 413-448-9700.
Pittsfield Police Presence Has Tyler Area Wondering
By Joe Durwin On: 02:02PM / Monday July 16, 2012
Pittsfield Police said Monday that the extra enforcement on Tyler Street and Dalton Avenue was for jaywalkers and traffic.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Residents and motorists in the Dalton Avenue area voiced concerns Monday morning about another possible serious crime in their neighborhood, but authorities say the notable police presence is for enhanced policing of pedestrian activity and not a suspect search feared by some.
iBerkshires was contacted by area residents who reported seeing multiple cars pulled over by Pittsfield Police in the Dalton Avenue and Tyler Street area between approximately 11 and noon Monday.
"One flew down Dalton Avenue toward Liquors Inc. going like 100 mph," said Alice Larkin, of Dalton, "While one had someone pulled over next to Dunkin' Donuts on Dalton Ave."
Multiple police cruisers and an officer in a dark red unmarked car were seen circling the area repeatedly.
"I also saw an officer pull someone over, get out, hold up something like a photo to compare the driver to, then hop right back in the car, flick on his lights again and head the opposite way down Tyler Street," said Larkin.
"They seemed to be looking for somebody between Zenner's [Package & Variety store] on Tyler and around Dalton Ave," said one Tyler Street area resident, who declined to give his name.
Pittsfield Police Sgt. Shaun Osborne told iBerkshires the activity was not related to any search effort. "We're not searching for anybody, it's just crosswalk enforcement, that type of thing," he said.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Police say they have apprehended a suspect in the armed robbery of the Dunkin' Donuts on Dalton Avenue on Thursday night.
According to The Berkshire Eagle, 28-year-old Christopher M. Riddle of Tyler Street, who spent time in prison for robberies committed in 2005, was arraigned in Central Berkshire District Court on Friday. Riddle was charged with single counts of unarmed robbery and possesion of heroin. The Eagle reported he pleaded not guilty to the charges but was held without bail based on a Superior Court matter.
Police said they responded to a report of an armed robbery at the 84 Dalton Ave. doughnut shop on Thursday night at about 9:29 p.m. The suspect was reported to have been masked when he entered the business and demanded money from the cash registers. Although the suspect's face could not be seen, witnesses were able to identify him based on his voice and his physical characteristics, said police.
Witnesses had reported that the suspect had been in the business on three separate occasions earlier in the evening, but could not be certain that he possessed a weapon during the robbery.
Based on the identification, a BOLO was put out for the suspect, who was located on Tyler Street near Brown Street at approximately 11:04 p.m. Riddle was subsequently arrested by patrol officers and investigators from the Drug Unit. At the time of his arrest, police said he was found to be in possession of a quantity of cash and heroin.
The investigation is ongoing, but police said preliminary investigation indicates that the suspect in Thursday's robbery matches the description of the suspect in a prior robbery that occurred at Kirk's Variety on Tuesday, July 10.
Anyone with any additional information is asked to contact the Detective Bureau at 413-448-9705.