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Eyewitness Video: Cement Truck Catches Fire in Pittsfield

By Andy McKeever
iBerkshires Staff
Photo and video both courtesy of Geoff Gladu
The cement truck caught on fire and filled the Cheshire Road area just north of Allendale Shopping Center with smoke.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A cement truck burst into flames on Cheshire Road on Tuesday morning filling the street with smoke.

Geoff Gladu was visiting his brother's home when he said he saw a "big blast of fire" coming from the cement truck at about 10 a.m. He capture the flames and the smoke on film.

Gladu said it appeared that the smoke caused a minor collision as well between two cars. Both of those vehicles drove away from the scene, Gladu said.

The fire appeared to have gone out on its own. Firefighters arrived shortly afterward and by about 10:30 a.m., the Fire Department had left the scene.

It does not appear that there were any injuries.


County's Special Response Team Gets New Armored Vehicle

By Andy McKeever
iBerkshires Staff
Photo courtesy of Pittsfield Police Department.
The new vehicle was picked up by law enforcement on Wednesday.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The county's Special Response Team has a brand-new toy ready to deploy.

On Wednesday, law enforcement agents picked up a new and locally built BearCat armored vehicle.

The new truck is now the primary vehicle for deployment in such events as high-risk search warrants, active shooters, workplace or school shootings, officer rescue and barricaded gunmen.

The bullet-proof vehicle allows county Special Response Team members to approach a situation safely, according to Police Chief Michael Wynn.

The former vehicle will now be moved to another part of the county and act as a backup. That one is 10 years old and needed replacement, Wynn said.

"This truck was bought with Western Mass Homeland Security Council money," Wynn said.

The $300,000 vehicle is being hosted by the city but is available to other municipalities and will be ready to be deployed as early as Thursday night. The truck is only used in certain situations.

"We're very excited. It's been a long process for us," Wynn said.

It is a "relatively low-tech" and doesn't have all of the computer technology available in other armored vehicles, but it does include a variety of Homeland Security equipment, cameras and radios.

The team was looking for a replacement truck for a while but it wasn't until they realized three other law enforcement agencies were looking for the same thing that they teamed up.

The state negotiated a bulk purchase with Pittsfield's own Lenco Armored Vehicles for the three departments.

From there, the Western Mass team secured money from the Homeland Security Council, which reallocated funds to make it happen.

Former Headmaster Pleads Guilty to Child Porn Charges

Staff Reports
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The former headmaster of a local school pleaded guilty Thursday in Berkshire Superior Court to multiple child pornography charges

David B. Harris, 68, of North Adams was arrested two years ago at his Marion Avenue home. At the time of his arrest, he was the headmaster of Cambridge Montessori School, a private school for children from preschool to ninth grade. He had been head of school at Pine Cobble School in Williamstown for 10 years before leaving in 1999.

Harris pleaded guilty to single counts of possession of child pornography and dissemination of child pornography, and 18 counts of knowlingly possessing visual material of a child depicted in a sexual conduct.

He disseminated child pornography on Jan. 24, 2010, and was in possession of child pornography when he was arrested on July 18, 2010.

Judge John Agostini ordered that he serve six months of a 2 1/2-year sentence at the Berkshire County House of Correction on the single possession charge and was placed on two years probation for the dissemination of child pornography charge, on the condition he undergo counseling, turn in all computers and/or media storage devices, not possess any computer or cell phone that can access the Internet, not possess any pornography, and allow a probation officer to search any computer or media device during the probationary period. 

He was given concurrent six-month House of Correction sentences on the 18 counts of possession of visual material of a child depicted in a sexual conduct.


Pittsfield Fire Destroys Home, Kills Two Pets

Staff Reports
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
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.

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