Pittsfield Police: Eight Robberies In Six Weeks
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The city is averaging more than one armed robbery per week for the last month and a half.
Police say there have been eight armed robberies since November 23, 2015, seven of which are still unsolved.
The stores robbed include Angelina's on West Housatonic Street, an Empire Pizza delivery driver on Parker Street, the Gulf Station on Wahconah Street, Zuke's Variety on West Street, the Getty on Elm Street, Greylock Federal Credit Union on Upper North Street, the Salvation Army on Dalton Avenue, and Dawes Avenue Variety.
"With the exception of one case (robbery of Zuke's store on 12/10/15, in which 30-year-old Ivy Rogers of Pittsfield was arrested and charged, these are all active investigations," Police Chief Michael Wynn wrote in a release issued on Friday.
The chief says the staffing levels and call volume "do not allow for increased patrols or presence at this time" but that beat officers "are making it a point in between calls to be visible and conduct patrols in and around businesses."
Wynn said units within the patrol division would typically execute specialized patrols and have been given additional tasks related to solving the open robbery cases. Other units — such as detectives and investigators — have picked up additional duties aimed to prevent more robberies as well as investigating the cases.
While there are some commonalities in the robberies, it appears that most are separate investigations, Wynn wrote.
"Beyond race or sex, none of the descriptions of any of the suspects in the seven open cases closely matches any other case. In other words, they appear to have been committed by seven separate sets of suspects," Wynn wrote.
"That being said, eyewitness information in these cases has not been particularly strong. It does now appear that one of the seven cases in Pittsfield does appear to be linked to a similar robbery that occurred on Jan. 7, 2016 in South Hadley."
Some of the details included that most were places of business — with only one being a delivery driver; three involved knives and four involved handguns; there are six male suspects and one female suspect (one woman already arrested in the Zuke's Variety case); three were white males, two were black males, two (one male, one female) were of unknown race; three of them occurred during the 5 p.m. hour, two during the 7 p.m. hour, one during the 11 p.m. hour — a total six happening during the evening shift — and one at 2 in the afternoon; in four cases the victims were alone, in three there were multiple people present; no victims were injured; and the locations do not appear to be in any geographical pattern.
In wake of the rash of robberies, the Police Department issued the following tips to businesses and individuals:
- Increase vigilance when nearing closing hours (when customer traffic is low).
- Increase awareness of persons/vehicles loitering in the area, and call the police if suspicious.
- Increase staff at closing and evening hours so that there is not one employee alone during these times.
- Install surveillance and security systems.
- Do not do anything to place yourself in harm. Comply with all demands.
- Immediately close your business, and lock your doors. Call 911 before calling anyone else.
- Be the best witness you can be. After calling 911, write down details of the suspect. If there is more than one victim, do not share details amongst yourselves first.
Anyone with information regarding these cases is encouraged to call the Detective Bureau at 448-9705.
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Pittsfield Police Restructures Command Staff
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Police Department is restructuring its command staff following the retirement of Capt. Patrick Barry.
Barry is a 27-year veteran of the force and announced his retirement from the department effective Jan. 3. He was the commander of the detective bureau for 15 years. He was briefly appointed acting chief at one point. Despite his retirement, he will remain in the profession as the chief of police in another community.
With his position open, the department is making a number of changes to top positions, which be be in place in the next few days.
"Captain Barry's departure led to an opportunity for internal discussion and some personnel assignment changes," Police Chief Michael Wynn wrote.
Capt. David Granger will take over command of the administrative services division as of Sunday, Jan. 10. He will assume responsibility for records, procurement, and human resources. He will also be the department's primary public information officer.
Granger has been with the department for 31 years with the last 10 being the commander of the uniformed patrol division. Prior to that, he worked as a supervisor in both the detective bureau and the the drug unit as well as the patrol supervisor.
Capt. John Mullin, the current commander of the administrative services division, will switch with Granger to become the division commander of the uniformed patrol division. He will be in charge of all patrol functions, traffic, K9, and special events. He also will be the department's liaison to the Traffic Commission, the Pittsfield Community Connect program, and the Elizabeth Freeman Center. He assumes the new job on Sunday, Jan. 10.
Mullin has been with the department for 29 years with the last eight being the commander of the administrative services division. Prior to that, he was shift commander and patrol supervisor in the uniformed patrol division.
Lt. Michael Grady will be interim commander of the detective bureau — filling the vacancy left by Barry's retirement. Grady has been with the department for 21 years and has most recently been the detective lieutenant — second in command — on the evening shift. He takes over the commander position on Sunday, Jan. 10. He assumes command of the detective bureau, drug unit, and crime scene services pending completion of a formal civil service promotional process.
"The department's senior commanders have spent between five and 15 years in their current assignments. While each division commander assignment places various requirements and demands on the commander, they all present significant challenges, time commitments, and personal investment. Captain Barry's departure has presented us with an opportunity to make some changes, mix things up, and interject some fresh perspective into our organization and operations," Wynn wrote.
"We wish Chief Barry well in his new endeavors, and I'm looking forward to the energy that these new assignments will bring to the Department."
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Police: Thursday's Bomb Threats May Be Linked To Armed Robbery
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Police are considering the possibility that the bomb threat scares Thursday may be linked to a robbery of Dawes Avenue Variety.
Police Chief Michael Wynn says threats were made to 15 different targets spanning five communities Thursday. The call was made to the Pittsfield Police Department Communications Center around 1 :30 and originated from Walmart at 555 Hubbard Avenue, according to a statement by Wynn. He said the "call was barely understandable and possibly electronically altered."
Communications staff deciphered the call to be a threat against 15 targets in five towns that included schools, government facilities, and other infrastructure locations.
"Once the list was deciphered and developed, communications personnel immediately began notifying the other jurisdictions, as well as dispatching units to Walmart and notifying Department resources. Local notifications were also initiated," Wynn wrote. "Communications personnel were also able to determine that the original call contained a specific time deadline for action and an indication that the caller would call back at the expiration of that deadline."
Wynn said because of difficulty in deciphering the message and such a long list of locations, the initial response took time. During the initial response, the deadline in the message had passed without incident and no followup call was made. It was determined the threat was not credible.
"Department personnel determined that the threat was less than credible and shifted from the initial response into the investigative phase. At this point, notifications were halted," Wynn wrote. "At this point, no additional information on the listed target locations or the call is being released, pending outcome of the ongoing investigation."
The notifications caused responses in at least four towns. Lanesborough, Cheshire and Dalton all had threats to locations and performed some level of security measures at the schools. Lenox went so far as to evacuate the middle and high school.
During the response, Pittsfield Police received a report of an armed robbery at the Dawes Avenue Variety around 2 p.m.. The response to that call included officers conducting an area search for the suspect, according to scanner calls at that time.
Police at first considered the incidents separate but have since determined the bomb threat call and the robbery could be linked.
"On the basis of information developed overnight, the Department is now investigating the possibility that the initial call for the bomb threat may be related to the subsequent robbery. This incident remains under active investigation," Wynn wrote.
Wynn asks anyone with information or had seen anybody at the pay-phone at Walmart between 1:30 and 2 p.m. to contact the detective bureau.
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Superior Court Briefs: Dec. 22 - Jan. 4
Cases heard before Judge Daniel Ford on Tuesday, Dec. 22.
Peter Campbell, 19, of Pittsfield had a not guilty plea entered on his behalf on a single count of intimidation of a witness or other person.
He was released on $100 bail as he is currently being held at the Berkshire County House of Correction on other charges. Campbell is accused of intimidating a witness in a pending matter between October 16, 2015 and November 2, 2015.
Charles Moore, 31, of Pittsfield had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf on single counts of armed assault with intent to murder, illegal possession of a firearm, illegal possession of a loaded firearm, and discharging a firearm within 500 feet of a building.
He is accused of the crimes during an incident on Harold Street in Pittsfield on September 22, 2015. He was ordered to be held at the Berkshire County House of Correction on $5,000.
Kenneth Rathbun, 53, of Pittsfield had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf on single counts of possession of heroin with intent to distribute - his second offense - possession of heroin - his second offense - and two counts of possession of cocaine - his second offense.
He was ordered to be held at the Berkshire County House of Correction on $5,000 bail. The charges stem from a motor vehicle stops in Pittsfield on September 17, 2015 and November 17, 2015.
Lemarr Talley, 32, of Pittsfield had a not guilty plea entered on his behalf on a single count of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute - his second offense.
He was ordered to be held at the Berkshire County House of Correction on $5,000 bail. The charges stem from the execution of a search warrant at his home on November 18, 2015.
Cases heard before Judge Daniel Ford on Wednesday, Dec. 23.
Anthony Robertson, 33, of Albany, N.Y. had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf on single counts of armed assault with intent to murder, aggravated assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon, discharging a firearm within 500 feet of a building, and assault and battery.
He was ordered to be held at the Berkshire County House of Correction on $50,000 cash or $500,000 surety bail. Robinson is accused of shooting a 29-year-old man in Pittsfield on October 31, 2015.
Naim Moore, 37, of Brooklyn, N.Y. had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf on single counts of trafficking in a Class B substance (MDMA), possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, and conspiracy to violate drug laws to wit: possession of cocaine with intent to distribute.
He was ordered to be held at the Berkshire County House of Correction on $25,000 cash or $250,000 surety bail. The charges stem from the execution of a search warranted at 119 Bracewell Avenue in North Adams on November 3, 2015.
Cases heard before Judge John Agostini on Monday, Jan. 4.
Amena Smith, 37, of Pittsfield had not guilty pleas entered on her behalf on single counts of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, conspiracy to violate drug laws to wit: possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, possession of morphine with intent to distribute, and conspiracy to violate drug laws: possession of morphine with intent to distribute.
Smith was given two and a half years at the Berkshire County House of Correction on the two cocaine-related charges. She was placed on three-years probation on the morphine-related charges. The charges stem from the execution of a search warrant at her Hamlin Street home on October 1, 2014.
Lemarr Talley, 32, of Pittsfield pleaded guilty to possession of cocaine with intent to distribute - his second offense.
Talley was ordered to serve three and a half to five years at the Massachusetts Correctional Institution at Cedar Junction. The charges stem from the execution of a search warrant at his home on November 18, 2015.
Dayanlee Bracero-Quirindo, 20, of Pittsfield had not guilty pleas entered on her behalf on single counts of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, and conspiracy to violate drug laws to wit: possession of cocaine with intent to distribute.
She was released on personal recognizance. The charges stem from the execution of a search warrant at her home on October 8, 2015.
Merredith Futrell, 33, of North Adams had not guilty pleas entered on her behalf on single counts of trafficking in a Class B substance (MDMA), possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, and conspiracy to violate drug laws to wit: possession of cocaine with intent to distribute.
She was released on $1,500 bail. The charges stem from the execution of a search warrant at her home on November 3, 2015.
Brian Schaffer, 59, of Lee had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf on four counts of possession of child pornography.
He was released on $2,000 bail. Schaffer is accused of being in possession of child pornography in Lee on August 1, 2015.
Fantasia Segar, 27, of Brooklyn, N.Y. had not guilty pleas entered on her behalf on single counts of trafficking in a Class B substance (MDMA), possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, and conspiracy to violate drug laws to wit: possession of cocaine with intent to distribute.
She was released on $1,500 bail. The charges stem from the execution of a search warrant at 119 Bracewell Avenue in North Adams on November 3, 2015.
Gregory Thompson, 35, of Pittsfield had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf on two counts of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute - his second offense.
He was released on $3,000 bail. The charges stem from the execution of a search warrant at his home on August 27, 2015 and a motor vehicle stop in Pittsfield on November 16, 2015.
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Multiple Berkshire County Schools Subject Of Bomb Threat
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.
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