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North Adams Police Arrest Suspect in Armed Robberies

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Police have arrested a suspect in two armed robberies that occurred overnight Saturday and Sunday.
 
The first robbery occurred about 9 p.m. on Saturday when Dave's Package Store at the corner of River and Canal streets set off a hold up alarm. 
 
Dispatch was able to verify upon calling the business that the clerk was held up by an individual who was brandishing a knife. The person fled the area before officers arrived. 
 
However, the suspect was able to be identified by officers from the security footage. Officers checked known locations of where the individual stays but could not locate the suspect.
 
Then Sunday morning at approximately 4:40 a.m., a second armed robbery occurred at Dunkin' Donuts by the same method. In that case, an individual made off with a sum of money from one of the registers after going behind the counter and brandishing a knife toward the clerk. Again, the suspect fled the area but the description given led officers to believe the two incidents were connected by the same individual.
 
An officer who had remained in the area of Dunkin' Donuts observed the suspect walking in the Union Street area just before 7 a.m. This was the same person who was identified at first robbery. The suspect began to flee from the officer immediately. A foot chase then ensued that led from Union Street to the River Street area.
 
The office caught up with the suspect on River Street but the individual resisted arrest. Backup officers arrived shortly after, at which time the suspect was taken into custody. The initiating officer and the suspect were both injured during the arrest.
 
The officer and suspect were both treated and released at Berkshire Medical Center's North Adams campus. The suspect will remain in custody at the North Adams Police Department on $7,540 cash bail until being brought to Northern Berkshire District Court on Monday morning.
 
The name of the individual is being withheld at this point to prevent "public shaming," according to the post by Police Chief Jason Wood.
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North Adams Man Killed, 2 Injured in Route 8 Crash


Route 8 was closed for some time on Sunday morning after a
three-vehicle collision near Farnams Road. 
Update: Anthony Emard, 61, of North Adams has been identified as the fatality in Sunday morning's three-vehicle crash on Route 8. 
 
According to the Berkshire District Attorney's Office, the other two individuals involved in the accident are 29-year-old Trever Field and 37-year-old Michael Taylor, both of Adams. 
 
Field was driving the Jeep Grand Cherokee that state police said tried to pass a Mustang, driven by Taylor. As Emard's Hyundai approached in the northbound lane, Field pulled back into his southbound lane and hit the rear bumper of the Mustang, say authorities, that caused it to spin out.
 
The Hyundai was struck by one of the vehicles and rolled over. The crash is still under investigation. 

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Original post 12:48 p.m., Oct. 20, 2019; CHESHIRE, Mass. — A North Adams man was killed early Sunday morning in collision involving three vehicles on Route 8 near Farnams Road. 

 
The 61-year-old victim was driving a 2009 Hyundai Accent north at about 7:11 a.m. when it rolled over after being hit by the other two vehicles. He was pronounced dead at the scene and the other two drivers were taken to Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield with "serious injuries."
 
According to state troopers from the Cheshire barracks, a preliminary investigation has revealed that a 1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee, driven by a 29-year-old man from Adams, was southbound behind a 1997 Ford Mustang, driven by a 37-year-old man, also from Adams. 
 
The driver of the Jeep began passing the Mustang at the same time the Hyundai was approaching in the northbound lane. The Jeep apparently tried to pull back into the southbound lane but struck the Mustang, which then caused both vehicles to strike the Hyundai, causing it to rollover.
 
The remaining facts and circumstances remain under investigation by state police, including the Detective Unit assigned to the Berkshire County District Attorney's Office. Troop B Headquarters and the Crime Scene Services Section and Collision Analysis Reconstruction Section team, Cheshire Fire Department, Pittsfield Fire Department, Lanesborough Police and Fire Departments, and the state Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, all assisted on scene.
 
No further information is currently available.
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Authorities Release Details of Alleged Assault at Simon's Rock

GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — The details of an alleged assault at Bard College at Simon's Rock more than two weeks ago have been released by the authorities, and several aspects of the account aren't adding up.
 
The victim, an unidentified student of color, has said they were assaulted on a trail on the college campus and dragged into the nearby woods. This allegedly occurred on Friday, Sept. 27, and the campus safety office was alerted at 2 p.m. that day. The student was taken by ambulance to Berkshire Medical Center, treated for minor injuries and released. 
 
The investigation into the reported assault continues, according to the Berkshire District Attorney's Office, but the DA and Great Barrington Police have provided more details "given the unease that the complaint has caused for the community, particularly for Simon's Rock students and faculty."
 
According to authorities, the student reported being rendered unconscious and being dragged about 75 yards into the woods along a wooden path with dirt and mud but neither the student nor the any of the student's clothing had any dirt or debris. 
 
• The student reported later waking with cuts through the student's clothing, resulting in cuts to the student's torso. The superficial wounds on the student's torso did not align with the cuts on the student's clothing.
 
• There also were no defensive wounds on the complainant and records provided thus far do not provide a medical reason for unconsciousness.
 
• Investigators conducted three interviews of the student and no description of the alleged assailant was provided to investigators during any of the interviews.
 
• No surveillance footage of the area is available and none of the witnesses in the area at the time reported seeing any other potentially involved parties in the vicinity.
 
Investigators from the Berkshire State Police Detective Unit assigned to the Berkshire District Attorney's Office, in collaboration with Great Barrington Police, conducted numerous interviews, searched the grounds, searched electronics, and sent items to the State Police Crime Lab for forensic testing.
 
Investigators are looking into all aspects of the case, from the nature of the original complaint to potential motivations behind the alleged assault. The investigation remains ongoing by law enforcement and forensic testing has yet to be finalized.
 
A significant amount of resources have been devoted to the complaint. The investigation involves multiple law enforcement agencies including Great Barrington Police, Simon's Rock Campus Safety, the State Police Detective Unit assigned to the Berkshire District Attorney's Office, the State Police Crime Scene Services Section, and forensic scientists assigned to the State Police Crime Lab. The U.S. Attorney's Office has been notified because of the potential racial motives for the alleged attack.
 
Anyone with additional information that can aid in the investigation is asked to contact Great Barrington Police at 413-528-0306.
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Pittsfield Man Charged with Setting A-Mart Convenience Store Blaze

Staff Reports

Screen capture taken from video by Patricia Devinez  here.
Update: PITTSFIELD,  Mass. — A Pittsfield man has been arrested in relation to the devastating fire that destroyed the A-Mart convenience store on Tuesday night.
 
Thomas Roberts, 51, was arrested Wednesday on charges of arson and injuring a firefighter. 
 
Authorities determined the blaze as suspicious after an investigation by the Detective Bureau and Crime Scene Services, along with fire investigators. The building is most likely a total loss. 
 
Roberts was located by members of the police anti-crime unit in a motel within the city. He is being charged with injuring a firefighter because one Pittsfield firefighter was taken to Berkshire Medical Center for a shoulder injury.
 
The investigators are thanking everyone who provided information, and businesses that provided access to their video surveillance systems, which enabled them to quickly resolve the case.

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Posted: 1:48 p.m., Oct. 16, 2019

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The double-alarm fire that destroyed the A-Mart Convenience & Liquor Store on Tuesday night is under investigation. 

 
Fire Chief Thomas Sammons said the structure was fully involved in flames when firefighters arrive just before 10:30 p.m.
 
"What we know for sure is the business closed at 10, and at 10:24 there was extensive fire in the loft area of the ceiling," he said on Wednesday. The chief said he has been in touch with investigators who are still searching for a cause. 
 
The blaze was called in by a passerby who saw flames on the outside of the building at 524 North St. Sammons said firefighters made an initial entry into the structure and realized it was much more extensive than first expected. 
 
"It was already running the length of that portion of the building," he said. "That whole section was involved in the ceiling area." 
 
Firefighters made a trench cut in the roof and found fire within the ceiling space. 
 
"This was way back from where the initial fire was on the outside of the building," Sammons said. "So nobody was allowed inside or on the roof."
 
The A-Mart is located in the western portion of the L-shaped building; a barber shop is in the section at the back of the parking lot and that parallels North Street.
 
Fire crews directed streams of water into the building and North Street was closed between Linden Street and Madison Avenue. The initial working group called a double alarm to bring in more manpower with another truck company, and an additional engine company and a ladder truck from Lenox and Dalton.
 
Sammons estimated it took about two hours to bring the inferno under control and crews remained on scene all night putting out hotspots. 
 
Images on social media showed heavy smoke billowing up from North Street and flames within the building. 
 
The popular store was open from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. and had offered a variety of grocery, pharmacy and convenience needs, including liquor. The one thing it didn't have was gasoline. 
 
On Wednesday morning, the area around the building was cordoned off and a fire truck was on scene. The store's jaunty sign still towered over the plaza but the owners of the structure declined to speak to media.  
 
The business had been run by a local family for some three decades before being purchased by a Chelmsford company, Sonal Patel LLC, for $1,113,691 in September 2017. 
 
The A-Mart section of the building is a total loss but the barbershop side was saved. 
 
"The crews worked very hard and were able to prevent it going to the other side, the barbershop," Sammons said. "So they were able to save part of the building, at least."
 
The chief confirmed that one firefighter was taken to Berkshire Medical Center for treatment of a shoulder injury. The individual was treated and released with his arm in a sling but is expected to recover. 
 
"It was a lot of hard work and the guys did a great job," the chief said. 
 
Complete write-thru 1:48 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019; original post 1:24 a.m., Oct. 15.
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Propane Tank Explosion in Cheshire Destroys Property

By Jeff Snoonian
iBerkshires Correspondent
CHESHIRE, Mass. — A propane tank explosion rocked Lake Shore Drive on Friday night at about 8. Miraculously, there were no injuries but the recreational vehicle and adjacent structure are a total loss. 
 
Occupant David Willett said he was fortunate to get out unharmed.
 
"I was up watching TV and smelled a weird odor," he said on Saturday at the scene. "I got out of there and called 911."
 
Two minutes later the propane tank exploded. 
 
Lake Shore Drive is a dead-end road off Lanesborough Road, not far from the Route 8 intersection. The lane runs down the center of a small, curving peninsula into Cheshire Reservoir. 
 
The conflagration could be seen from the north end of the lake where residents gathered in the lake access parking lot to watch. 
 
According to the Cheshire Fire Department, firefighters were dispatched at 8:06 p.m. for a report of a fully involved house fire with propane tank explosions. The first engine company on arrival reported heavy fire showing from an RV that was parked directly next to a residence. The residence was also on fire.
 
Several propane tanks exploded while firefighters were battling the blaze, according to the statement by Cheshire Fire. The investigation by Chief Thomas Francesconi and a trooper with the State Police Fire Investigative Unit has determined the fire is not suspicious "and appears to be the result of a mechanical malfunction."
 
Members were on scene until 3 a.m. Saturday. Chief Francesconi thanked the Adams, Lanesborough, Savoy and Dalton fire departments for their assistance at the scene and covering the station, as well as Adams Ambulance Service,  Cheshire Police and utility crews.
 
Willett has been in contact with his sister and brother, who are on their way with clothes and supplies as everything he owned was lost — including the bike he uses to get to work. He wanted everyone to know that he is OK and very lucky.
 
He said Cheshire Fire will continue monitoring the situation Saturday as a precaution.
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