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Multiple Berkshire County Schools Subject Of Bomb Threat

By Andy McKeever
iBerkshires Staff
LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — Numerous schools were the target of bomb threats Thursday afternoon triggering responses from police and fire departments.
 
Pittsfield Police Chief Michael Wynn said targets were identified in five communities but he did not reveal which ones. 
 
"There was a timeline given in the call and an indication that the caller would make another call," Wynn said.
 
However, the time elapsed without incident and the individual never called back. Wynn said the caller making the threat was "scratchy" and "difficult to hear."
 
"We're working it an as active case," he said.
 
At least two of those targets were schools. 
 
Both Lanesborough and Lenox have reported that just before 2 p.m. bomb threats were made on the schools. The call were made to Pittsfield Police dispatch.
 
"This afternoon at 1:49 p.m., Lanesborough Elementary School received a notice from the Lanesborough Police Department of a bomb threat identifying several targets throughout Berkshire County including Lanesborough Elementary School. School personnel conducted a thorough search of the building and its perimeter, joined by town police and fire officials. The chiefs of the Lanesborough Police and Fire Departments were on the scene immediately and determined that no students or students were in danger," wrote Lanesborough Principal Martin McEvoy.
 
Police Chief Timothy Sorrell said police and fire initiated its "bomb scare protocol" and ultimately found no threats. Lanesborough Police were notified of the threat around 1:45 and claimed the bomb would go off a half hour later.
 
Cheshire Elementary went into a "soft lockdown," according to a Facebook posting by the Cheshire Police Department because the threat mentioned the Cheshire post office, which is not far from the school.
 
"I want to reiterate that the Cheshire Elementary School was never mentioned in the bomb threat," state the post, presumably by Chief Timothy Garner. "Post office employees were notified and they made their contacts as well."
 
Once the time frame of the threat expired, the school went back to normal.
 
Two schools in Dalton were reportedly included in the threat but neither were evacuated unlike Lenox Memorial Middle and High School.
 
The Berkshire Eagle reported that Lenox Memorial Middle and High School was evacuated because of the threat. That too was found to be unsubstantiated by Lenox police and fire.
 
Principal Michael Knybel told the Berkshire Eagle: "In the interest of student and staff safety and security, we have sent students home early... Our first concern is the safety of our students and we will make every attempt to ensure this matter is thoroughly investigated and safety is restored."
 
 
Updated with information from Cheshire Police.
     

Pittsfield Pedestrian Killed on Route 7

Staff Reports

LENOX, Mass. — A 46-year-old Pittsfield woman was killed shortly after midnight on Sunday when she was struck by a car on the Pittsfield Lenox Road.

According to Lenox Police, Stacy A. Macfarlane-Holmes was crossing the Pittsfield Road (Route 7) near the Price Chopper plaza on foot at about 12:39 a.m. when she was hit by a southbound 1998 Volkswagen New Beetle driven by Firas M. Kara of Lee.

Macfarlane-Holmes was in the southbound lane when the accident occurred but her direction of travel has yet to be determined. She was transported to Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield where she was pronounced dead.

The state police Collision Analysis and Reconstruction Section is in the process of reconstructing the crash. Kara states that he never saw Macfarlane-Holmes in the roadway. This area of the Pittsfield Road is somewhat poorly lit and it was raining at the time of the collision.

Officers Ward and Lagarce responded to the scene. They were assisted by state police from the Lee barracks, the Pittsfield Police Department, the Lenox Ambulance and the Pittsfield Fire Department. 

This incident remains under investigation. Anyone who may have witnessed this is urged to contact the Lenox Police at 413-637-2346. Officer Ward is the investigating officer. 

Tags: pedestrian, motor vehicle, fatality      

Lenox Police Go High Tech to Search for Missing

Lenox Police Department

LENOX, Mass. — Police Chief Stephen E. O'Brien has formalized an agreement with the A Child Is Missing Alert Program that has led to a high-tech method now in place to search locally for missing children, missing elderly (often with Alzheimer's), college students and missing persons who may be mentally or physically challenged or disabled.

Upon receipt of a missing person call, the Police Department will make one of its first phone calls to a toll-free number that rings in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., at the national headquarters of the A Child Is Missing Alert Program. 

The call, answered 24 hours every day by an information and mapping technician, initiates a rapid process of information gathering and use of sophisticated mapping systems. A Child Is Missing then launches potentially thousands of calls within minutes with an alert message detailing the missing person's description, last known whereabouts, and pertinent information. This alert message will also include a Lenox Police Department phone number for use by anyone with information relating to the missing person.

This program is a free service to law enforcement. Police officials will evaluate each potential activation of the A Child Is Missing Alert Program to ensure the application is appropriate to the case and that the system is optimally used. Policies, procedures, and employee training will also guide the most efficient and effective use of this alert program.      

Phone numbers that are called by this program include listed numbers and mobile numbers available to ACIM in the selected area. Mobile numbers, unlisted numbers, broadband/voice-over IP numbers, or TDD/TTY devices can be added to ensure they, too, are called in the event of an alert.

To enter your cell phone, unlisted or other device number visit www.achildismissing.org and click on "add your name" to enter your name, number and address. This information will only be used for emergency message alerts.  

A Child Is Missing is a nationwide nonprofit organization that helps law enforcement agencies locate missing children and others. It utilizes sophisticated computer mapping systems and trained technicians with the capacity to place 1,000 alert phone calls in one minute to residents and businesses in the area where someone has gone missing. To date, the efforts of A Child Is Missing have been credited with more than 890 safe, assisted recoveries.

Tags: missing person      

Lenox Ambulance in Head-on Crash

Staff Reports

LENOX, Mass. — The town's ambulance is out of commission after it was involved in a head-on crash Thursday morning while transporting a patient to Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield.

Police Chief Stephen E. O'Brien said Lenox Ambulance was dispatched at 5:11 a.m. on Thursday to Curtis Housing on Main Street for a woman with abdominal pain. By 5:25, the firefighter emergency medical technicians Jason Saunders and Daniel Pirettihad had her on the way to Pittsfield. 

Saunders, who was driving the ambulance, reported six minutes later that it had been involved in a head-on motor vehicle crash on Main Street near the entrance to the Church on the Hill. 

Police said Matthew Bak, 20, of Cheshire, was operating a 1997 Chevy pickup GMT 400 southbound on Main Street when he fell asleep at the wheel, crossed the center line, and collided with the 2008 Ford E450 Type III ambulance.

Saunders requested aid from the Fire Department, two other ambulances and Lenox Police. 

The EMTs on the ambulance began caring for the other patients involved and, once more firefighters arrived, a third ambulance was requested for the personnel involved in the crash.

Saunders, 36, and Piretti, 27, who was caring for the patient in the back of the ambulance, were both treated at BMC for minor injuries and released after being transported by County Ambulance. The 83-year-old patient was taken to BMC with neck and back pain via another County Ambulance.

Bak complained of neck and back pain and was transported to BMC by Lee Ambulance.   

The crash remains under investigation and both criminal and civil charges are pending. There was extensive damage to both involved vehicles, which were towed away.

Although the town will be without an ambulance, Fire Chief Daniel W. Clifford said the Lenox Fire Department will continue to provide emergency medical services and will rely on mutual aid ambulance services for transport until a more permanent solution for a replacement ambulance becomes available.

Tags: head-on, accident, ambulance      

Stolen Property Being Returned to Owners

Staff Reports

LENOX, Mass. — The items held as evidence in the case against burglary kingpin Stefan Veremko are being released to their owners.

The Lenox Police Department has been holding hundreds of items seized in November 2009 from Veremko's home, vehicle and areas where he had discarded the property. Veremko's monthslong spree across three states ended when an off-duty officer spotted him fleeing a building - with a pillowcase. 

Multiple police agencies were investigating the break-ins, which stretched from Southern Vermont to South County. As a result, Veremko and accomplice Tara Malloy were arrested. The recent conclusion of the case convicting Veremko and giving him five- to seven-year state prison sentence allows police the opportunity to return the seized evidence to the many victims involved with this case, said Chief Stephen E. O'Brien.

Many people came to the Lenox Town Hall on Nov. 19, 2009, to view the vast array of items. Some were able to identify items that indeed belonged to them. While conducting this process, during the exit interview, these victims were asked to provide a phone number at which they could be reached at the conclusion of the case.

Within the next several days, the victims who identified property will be receiving a call from the Lenox Police to arrange for the release of their property. All of the property that was identified will be returned to its rightful owner. For victims from the states of Vermont and New York, their property will be released to the police agency having jurisdiction over the crime. The out-of-state agency will make a determination if that property may be released or if it will remain held pending future criminal action against Veremko and Malloy in their states.

"We are asking for everyone's patience as we attempt to relinquish property in an orderly fashion to be certain that each and every victim recoups their loss," said O'Brien. "We also thank everyone involved for their patience as this case made its way through the criminal court system."

Tags: Veremko, burglary, break-ins      
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