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Arsonist Targets 8 Buildings in Great Barrington

Nichole Dupont

Update: Thursday, 10 p.m.: Red Crow News reports that artist David Pixley, 62, was arraigned Thursday morning in Southern Berkshire District Court on on two of counts of arson, five of attempting to burn buildings, and three of attempting to burn vehicles.

Pixley is being held on $50,000 bail after being caught by police in the early morning hours allegedly trying to set a fire at TD Banknorth. Pixley allgedy fled the scene, according to Red Crow News, and police gave chase, taking him into custody at his 20 Hollenbeck Ave. apartment.

Update Thursday, 10:48 a.m.: Police have arrested a suspect in connection with at least two of Wednesday's arson fires in Great Barrington. The unidentified man was arrested at about 2 a.m. on Thursday morning when he was found in the parking lot of TD Banknorth on 271 Main St., allegedly in the act of trying to start yet another fire.

Debris behind Barrington Outfitters. The back of the building sustained damage after someone set fire to it.

GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — Eight buildings in the downtown and three motor vehicles were targeted by an unknown arsonist early Wednesday morning. Police are looking for a man wearing a dark-colored poncho and black North Face winter gloves.

Fires were set at Barrington Outfitters on Main Street and Lee Bank; combustibles were found in the other locations but no fires set, according to authorities.

The blazes occurred at about 1:40 a.m., according to a statement from Town Manager Kevin O'Donnell, and were brought under control by the Fire Department and four mutual aid towns. No one was injured in either case.  

"Police investigation determined that the fires were set. Five other buildings, Shopper's Guide, Foster's Hardware, Toole Insurance Agency, Berkshire Block and Gypsy Joynt, locations adjacent to the Foster's Hardware parking lot, were also targeted as well as the Tune Street building on Railroad Street with combustibles and flammable liquids, but were not set on fire. Three vehicles in the Foster's parking lot had flammable liquid applied to them, but were not burned."

Barrington Outfitters was closed earlier this morning while police and contractors assessed the damage, which was done to the back of the store. Police and the owners, the Druckers, declined to comment on the blaze.

The second fire started in a vacant store front in the Lee Bank building that was left unlocked. Fire Chief Harry Jennings used the town's reverse 911 system to notify business owners about clearing debris and securing their businesses properly at night.

Police picked up a homeless man, 19-year-old Matthew Wilcox of Egremont Plain Road, who they said broke into the storage shed behind Barrington Outfitters. According to the town statement, police do not believe Wilcox was involved in the fires but he has not been ruled out. He was arraigned this morning in Southern Berkshire District Court on charges of breaking and entering and trespassing.

Police are working with the state police Crime Scene Services, troopers assigned to the state fire marshal's office and district attorney's office, and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. They canvassed the downtown area and distributed a photo of the suspect.

The fire marshal's Arson Reward Program offers up to $5,000 for information leading to an arrest and conviction. Anyone with information is asked to call 800-682-9229 or Police Chief William Walsh at 413-528-0306.

Tags: fire, structure, arson      

Superior Court Briefs: March 28 - March 31

Andy McKeever

Cases heard before Judge John Agostini on Monday, March 28.

Brandon Brown, 27, of Springfield pleaded guilty to furnishing a false name to a police officer.

Brown was ordered to serve a 321 day sentence at the Berkshire County House of Correction. One county of distribution of cocaine, a second offence, was dismissed by the state. The incident occurred in Pittsfield on May 12, 2010.

Cases heard before Judge John Agostini on Wednesday, March 30.

Matthew Hadsell, 33, of Pittsfield had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf on single counts of trafficking in cocaine, trafficking in oxycodone and trafficking in ecstacy.

Hadsell allegedly trafficked drugs in Pittsfield on Feb. 23. He will be held on $2,500 bail.

Jeremy Stanton, 25, of Pittsfield pled not guilty to an array of charges.

Stanton is being charged with trafficking in cocaine, trafficking in oxycodone, trafficking in ecstacy, two counts of conspiracy to violate drug laws, three counts of possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, three counts of illegal possession of a firearm, three counts of possession of ammunition without a firearm identification card and three counts of improper storage of firearms.

The charges stem from the execution of six search warrants in Pittsfield on Feb. 23 and Stanton is being held at the Berkshire County House of Correction on $200,000 bail.

Steven Signor
, 24, of Pittsfield had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf on single counts of trafficking in cocaine, trafficking in oxycodone, trafficking in ecstacy, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute and drug violation within a school zone.

Signor allegedly conspired with others to traffick in drugs and was in possession of marijuana with intent to distribute when he was arrested in Pittsfield on Feb. 23. Signor is being held on $2,500 bail.

Cases heard before Judge John Agostini on Thursday, March 31.

Robert M. MacDonald, 33, of Adams pleaded guilty to single counts of larceny, assault by means of a dangerous weapon, assault and battery and malicious destruction of personal property as a result of a robbery of Supreme Pizza and Wings in North Adams on June 28, 2010.

He was sentenced to two years at the Berkshire County House of Correction on the charges of assault and battery and malicious destruction of personal property. He was placed on three years probation on the other charges on the condition that he refrain from using drugs and alcohol, undergo drug and alcohol testing and receive substance abuse and mental health counseling.

Jose A. Morales
, 34, of Springfield had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf on single counts of trafficking in heroin and conspiracy to violate drug laws.
Morales will be held at the Berkshire County House of Correction on $50,000 cash or $500,000 surety bail. The charges stem from a motor vehicle stop in Richmond on Feb. 7.

David Ciepiela, 41, of Adams was found not guilty by a jury for single counts of burning a dwelling house, burning insured property with the intent to defraud and injuring a firefighter in the line of duty.

The jury deliberated for two hours on the charges that Ciepiela had set fire to his home on Phillips Hill in Adams on January 16, 2009.

Jerry Davis, 29, of Pittsfield had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf for two counts of intimidation of a witness or other person and two counts of threat to commit a crime, to wit: murder.

It is alleged that on Jan. 2 Davis intimidated and threatened two witnesses in a pending criminal case. He was released on personal recognizance and is being held at the Berkshire County House of Correction on a related case.

Tags: cocaine, oxycodone, ecstacy, firearms, arson      

Dalton Man Shot by Officer

Staff Reports

DALTON, Mass. — A Washington Mountain Road man has been hospitalized after being shot by a police officer early Wednesday morning. 

According to the district attorney's office, Michael Barry, 46, who threated to kill himself and others, was shot by Pittsfield Police Officer Christopher Colello at about 1 a.m. Wednesday after he fled into the woods and seemed to draw a weapon. He is currently listed in critical condition at Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield.

A press release from the district attorney's office states the incident occurred after Dalton Police responded to Barry's home shortly after midnight after receiving a call that a drunken man was pouring gasoline over the garage. When Officer Deanna Strout arrived on the scene she encountered Barry, who ignored her request to display his hands and ran into the woods at the rear of the residence.

Additional officers from Dalton and the Pittsfield Police Department, including a K-9 Unit, were dispatched to assist in the search for him.    

Witnesses at the residence reportedly told police that Barry had been at a Dalton bar late Tuesday night and, after arriving home intoxicated, began smashing and throwing items and saying he wanted to die. He poured gasoline on himself and in the garage and threatened to start a fire and kill himself and others, witnesses told police. 
Barry was located in the woods shortly after 1 a.m. by Colello and Pittsfield K-9 Officer James Losaw. According to the officers, Barry jumped up and made a movement that caused the officers to fear he was drawing a weapon. Colello shot several times, wounding Barry. He was treated at the scene by police and emergency personnel and then taken to Berkshire Medical Center, where he underwent surgery. 

Barry is in police custody as he recovers from his wounds, under arrest for various offenses, including attempted arson, attempted murder and assault.  

State police investigators assigned to the district attorney's office are conducting an investigation into the circumstances of Barry's shooting with the assistance of state police ballistics and Crime Scene Services unit.   

Updated, Nov. 5, 2010, at 3:30 p.m.
Barry was arraigned this morning in Central Berkshire District Court in Pittsfield before Judge Frederic Rutberg.  

He had not-guilty pleas entered on his behalf on single counts of attempted murder, attempted arson, aggravated assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon and vandalizing property, and two counts of assault by means of a dangerous weapon.  

Rutberg ordered that he be held without the right to bail. Barry's case was continued to Nov. 10 for further arraignment and status.  

The investigation is being conducted by members of the Dalton and Pittsfield police departments and state police detectives assigned to the district attorney's office.

Barry's attorney, Leonard H. Cohen, told The Eagle on Thursday that Barry had been shot three times and was seriously injured. He described the 46-year-old Dalton man's condition as now being on the "upside."

Tags: shooting, arson, assault, police      
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