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Pittsfield Officer Cleared in Officer-Involved Shooting Death

Staff Reports
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The district attorney has determined that Office Christopher Colello will not be charged with a crime in the shooting of Daniel Gillis in September.
 
Colello shot and killed 36-year-old Daniel Gillis on Taylor Street on Sept. 1, 2017. District Attorney David Capeless said on Wednesday that Colello "acted lawfully in defense of his fellow officers when Gillis suddenly charged at the officers while brandishing a knife."
 
"I have completed the investigation into the shooting death of Daniel Gillis on the afternoon on September 1, 2017, and I have concluded that there was no criminal behavior on the part of any of the officers of the Pittsfield Police Department. Specifically, I have determined that Officer Christopher Colello acted lawfully in defense of his fellow officers when Gillis suddenly charged at the officers while brandishing a knife," Capeless said in a statement.
 
"Clearly, this was an unfortunate situation which ended tragically. The entire incident developed within a short period of time and rapidly escalated when Gillis emerged from the house holding a knife to his throat and advanced upon officers despite their calls to drop the knife. When Gillis suddenly changed direction and charged at several officers, yelling at them, the situation changed from dangerous to life-threatening."
 
Capeless went on to say, "In this case, a cell phone video taken by a neighbor was quite helpful to the investigation, as it showed the incident shortly after Gillis emerged from the rear of the house and included the shooting. The investigation involved multiple, extended interviews of the many participants and witnesses, but the few seconds of the real-time capture of the event provided the most informative piece of the investigation."
 
Police responded that afternoon to a reported domestic incident. According to police, Gillis had initially barricaded himself in the house and was armed with a knife. He was said to be distraught and intoxicated, according to Capeless. Authorities said he exited the home and charged at officers while refusing to drop the weapon.
 
Colello shot the man seven times and Gillis was later pronounced dead at Berkshire Medical Center. The incident was the second officer-involved shooting involving Colello. He had previously shot a man in Dalton in 2010. It was also the city's second officer-involved shooting in 2017. In January 2017, 55-year-old Mark Marauszwski was shot by Officer Martin Streit after a police pursuit. Streit was cleared of any wrongdoing in that case.
 
The investigation of the Gillis incident was conducted by the state police detective unit assigned to the berkshire district attorney's office, assisted by the state police's Firearm Identification and Crime Scene Services sections, chemists assigned to the State Police Crime Laboratory, the Berkshire County sheriff's department and the Pittsfield Police Department.
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Great Barrington Firefighters Snuff Kitchen Blaze at Pizzeria


Fire damage was limited to areas on the first floor and a second-floor bathroom. 
GREAT BARRINGTON — The Fire Department extinguished a fire at Pizza House on State Road early Tuesday morning that severely damaged the business's kitchen and structure's first floor. 
 
"Our crews did an excellent job limiting the damage despite the challenges posed by this particular structure, which has been a fixture in town for decades," Chief Charles Burger said. "I'm extremely grateful that a tragedy was avoided this morning, and I'm hopeful that Pizza House will be able to rebuild and the residents will be able to return home soon."
 
Firefighters were dispatched to the 36 State Road business at about 3:30 a.m. for a report of a structure fire with tenants possibly trapped on the floor above. 
 
Upon arrival, firefighters observed heavy fire venting from the first-floor kitchen windows and smoke coming from the remainder of the building. Tenants were able to escape the building prior to firefighters reaching the scene, but there was still some uncertainty about whether or not a second apartment was occupied at the time the fire started. 
 
Firefighters made an aggressive interior attack and conducted a thorough search of the second floor while battling extreme heat and zero visibility inside the building. Their search confirmed that there were no tenants left inside, and crews were able to quickly knock down the flames. 
 
Once the fire was extinguished, firefighters remained on scene to extinguish hot spots. The firefighting effort was complicated by the fact that the building has been renovated and added onto multiple times during its lifespan, creating hidden areas that could potentially allow a fire to extend more easily. 
 
The Fire Department was assisted on scene by police, the Sheffield Fire Department and Southern Berkshire Ambulance.
 
Fire damage was limited to the first-floor kitchen and a second-floor bathroom, but there is smoke damage throughout the entire building. 
 
Residents in the upstairs apartments suffered from smoke inhalation that is not believed to be serious, and later went to the hospital on their own to seek medical treatment. 
 
Displaced tenants were able to make alternative arrangements for shelter. 
 
An investigation by the Fire Department and State Fire Marshal's Office is pointing to an electrical failure as the cause of the fire.
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Conn. Police Arrest Clarksburg Man Wanted in Adams Shooting

ADAMS, Mass. — A Clarksburg man who is wanted in connection with last Wednesday's shooting in Adams has been arrested in Connecticut on unrelated charges while at least two other men are still being sought. 
 
Gage M. Sherman, 20, of McLagen Drive, was arrested in Bristol, Conn., this past weekend for conspiracy to commit murder related to a shooting in Bristol on Friday. 
 
A warrant seeking his return to Massachusetts to answer to charges in the Adams shooting has been lodged with Connecticut authorities, according the district attorney's office. 
 
The shooting at 30 North Summer St. last Wednesday severely injured one man who was taken to Berkshire Medical Center, where he underwent surgery and remains hospitalized. Police have declined to confirm the victim's name or release much information regarding the incident. 
 
Sherman will be arraigned on a charge of unarmed robbery when he is returned to Massachusetts, according to the DA's office. The investigation remains ongoing with the potential for further criminal charges being sought.
 
Investigators believe the shooting was an isolated incident and not a random act. Authorities are still searching for two other men both described as black -- one thin, standing 5-foot-6 with a possible neck tattoo and last seen wearing a red hooded windbreaker with a red baseball cap and the second with a medium to heavy build, standing 5-foot-7 with moderate facial hair, short curly black hair and last seen wearing black sweat pants and black fleece jacket. 
 
Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to call the Adams Police Department at 413-743-1212 or state police detectives at 413-499-1112.
 
Sherman was arrested with Juan E. Ocasio, also 20 and from Massachusetts, after police responded to shots fired in front of a home on Pleasant View Avenue on Friday night in Briston. No one was reportedly injured in that shooting. Both men were being held on $500,000 bail.
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Two Arrested for Alleged Armed Home Invasion in Pittsfield


The K9 unit was called to search the neighborhood. 
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Two men have been arrested in relation to an armed home invasion on Pomeroy Avenue on Friday afternoon.
 
Ronald P. Sanford III, 27, of Pittsfield and Arthur J. McCowan, 29, from Springfield were taken into custody when police responded to call from the home's occupant saying two individuals armed with handguns were trying to gain access. 
 
The call came in at about 2:11 p.m.; when police arrived at the scene they observed the two men, matching the descriptions provided by the caller, outside the home. 
 
Sanford and McCowan were detained and searched for weapons. Although no handguns were found, McCowan was in possession of a folding knife, according to police. While other officers detained the suspects, investigating Officer Brandon Gallagher interviewed witnesses. As a result of Gallagher's investigation, both Sanford and McCowan were arrested and charged with numerous offenses. 
 
The charges include unarmed robbery, assault with a dangerous weapon (handgun), threat to commit crime (murder), and possession of a Class C drug (clonazepam) with intent to distribute. Sanford and McCowan are both being held on $10,000 bail. They will be arraigned in Central Berkshire District Court on Monday morning.
 
On Friday evening, while still in police custody, Sanford was transported to Berkshire Medical Center by Officers for medical reasons. He became aggressive and assaultive and as a result of his actions at the hospital, he was charged with four counts of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon (shod foot and chair), one count of assault with a dangerous weapon (police radio), and one count of assault and battery on a police officer. 
 
The injuries to officers as a result of Sanford's actions were not serious.
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Authorities Still Searching for Adams Shooter

Staff Reports
ADAMS, Mass. — Authorities are still on the hunt for suspects in Wednesday's shooting that sent a local man to the hospital.
 
Investigators believe the shooting at North Summer Street was an isolated incident and not a random act and that neighbors in the area are not in any immediate danger.
 
The victim's name is still not being released but he remains hospitalized at Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield, where he underwent surgery for gunshot wounds. 
 
Police are a looking for a light-skinned African-American man with facial hair who witnesses said fled the scene on foot. 
 
The vague account led to the highly dramatic stop of a man with no involvement in the case not long after police arrived at the scene. 
 
Police Chief Richard Tarsa on Friday said a man matching the description given by witnesses, including the wearing the similar clothing and colors, was seen driving by as police were searching the area around the 30 North Summer St. neighborhood on Wednesday. He was stopped after exiting the Racing Mart gas station on Columbia Street.
 
"The officers effected a motor vehicle stop, which is considered a high-risk stop because of the nature of the situation," Tarsa said. "We had a shooting and fleeing the scene, so a high-risk stop was conducted according to their training."
 
The man was removed from his car and handcuffed in the middle of Columbia Street at the intersection with Cook Street. Photos of the stop were posted on social media showing the man on his knees with his hands in the air but appear to have since been removed. 
 
"The individual was removed from their car, handcuffed for his own protection and placed in a cruiser, which gave the officers time to determine if they were involved," Tarsa said. "In this situation, the operator of the vehicle, who was alone, was found not to be involved so he was told what was going on and why he was stopped and the officers apologized for the inconvenience."
 
The police chief pushed back on allegations that the stop was a case of racial profiling. Rather, it was the circumstances of looking for a likely armed suspect and seeing a person who generally matched the description, he said. 
 
"As soon as they determined he was not involved, he was allowed to leave and, unfortunately, because of the situation you have to conduct the stop accordingly," he said. "Here it was a high risk so they had to order the operator out at gunpoint and they handled it accordingly. 
 
"By no means was it a racial issue."
 
Tarsa said incident is still under investigation and "we are following several leads."
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