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Eight Displaced Following Fire in Pittsfield Building

By Andy McKeever
iBerkshires Staff

The building is likely uninhabitable, which leaves eight people without a home.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Firefighters aggressively knocked down a fire in a Linden Street bedroom Monday afternoon.
 
Deputy Chief Thomas Sammons said that just before noon firefighters responded to 86 Linden Street where thick smoke was billowing out of the rear of the two-story structure. 
 
"Initial units in made an aggressive interior attack and knocked it down quick," Sammons said.
 
The fire itself was knocked down in about 10 minutes, Sammons said, but it took time to overhaul the structure.
 
After the initial knockdown firefighters had to tear open ceilings and walls to get it under control.
 
"It was pretty straightforward. We went in the rear of the structure, went in the rear stairs, and the rear stairs brought us right to the bedroom and we were able to extinguish there. There wasn't a lot of interior obstacles in our way," Sammons said.
 
Eight people lived in the building, four of which in the unit of the blaze. Sammons said the four living there were all outside at the time and the other four are accounted for. There were no injuries. The Red Cross was called to the scene.
 
Sammons expected the building to be uninhabitable following the blaze but that determination will be left to the Health Department and Building Inspectors. The cause of the fire has not been determined but investigators were called to the scene.
 
One truck company and five engines responded and Dalton brought a ladder truck to the scene. Linden Street was closed between Center and France Avenue. 
 
Sammons praised the work of the firefighters for the quick and safe response to the blaze.
 
"They were aggressive, they were safe, they did a great job, they always do a great job," Sammons said.
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Superior Court Briefs: July 18 - July 26

Staff Reports
Cases heard before Judge John Agostini on Wednesday, July 18.
 
Richard Carnute, 56, of Pittsfield pleaded guilty to single counts of assault by means of a dangerous weapon, strangulation or suffocation, assault and battery on a family or household member, intimidation of a witness, and violation of a restraining order.
 
He was ordered to serve concurrent 21-month sentences at the Berkshire County House of Correction. The charges stem from an incident in Pittsfield involving a 53-year-old woman between June 5, 2016 and June 8, 2016.
 
Peter Miner, 63, of Savoy had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf on two counts of aggravated indecent assault and battery and a single count of enticing a child under the age of 16.
 
He was released on personal recognizance. The incidents allegedly occurred in Savoy between January 1, 2013 and December 31, 2016 and involved a girl who is now aged 14.
 
Justin O'Connell, 27, of Cheshire had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf on single counts of trafficking in heroin, trafficking in cocaine, conspiracy to violate drug laws, and operating a motor vehicle with a suspended license.
 
He was released on $5,000 bail. The charges stem from his arrest in North Adams on April 26, 2018.
 
Cases heard before Judge John Agostini on Thursday, July 19.
 
Richard Miller, 39, of Windsor had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf on single counts of rape and indecent assault and battery on a person who has attained age 14. 
 
He was released on personal recognizance. The charges stem from an incident in Pittsfield involving a 34-year-old woman on February 18, 2018.
 
Cases heard before Judge John Agostini on Friday, July 20.
 
Brian Signor, 29, of  Pittsfield was found not guilty by a jury on a single count of manslaughter in connection with the death of 44-year-old Joseph Wirtes.
 
Signor had been accused of the crime in relation to an incident in Pittsfield on September 18, 2016.
 
Cases heard before Judge John Agostini on Monday, July 23.
 
Debra Davis, 44, of Great Barrington pleaded guilty to two counts of failing to report abuse of a disabled person, and single counts of accessory after the fact to wit: assault and battery on a disabled person, misleading a police officer, and intimidation of a witness.
 
She was ordered to pay a $500 fine on each of the failing to report abuse charges. The charges of accessory after the face, misleading a police officer, and intimidation of a witness was continued without a finding for a year.
 
The incident occurred while Davis was employed by Eagleton School between November 1, 2015 and January 13, 2016.
 
Cases heard before Judge John Agostini on Tuesday, July 24.
 
Jacob Ferry, 24, of Pittsfield had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf on single counts of trafficking in heroin, trafficking in cocaine, conspiracy to violate drug laws, illegal ownership of a firearm, possession of a firearm during the  commission of a felony, improper storage of a firearm, and possession of ammunition without a firearm identification card. 
 
He was released on $5,000 bail. The charges stem from an ongoing investigation into illegal drug activity in Pittsfield on May 16, 2018.
 
Shaina Sayers, 20, of Pittsfield had not guilty pleas entered on her behalf on single counts of trafficking in heroin, trafficking in cocaine, and conspiracy to violate drug laws.
 
She was released on $2,000 bail. The charges stem from an ongoing investigation into illegal drug activity in Pittsfield and allegedly occurred on May 16, 2018.
 
Angela Streeter, 36, of Pittsfield had not guilty pleas entered on her behalf on single counts of permitting bodily injury to a child, reckless endangerment of a child and permitting injury to a disabled person.
 
She was released on personal recognizance. The incidents allegedly occurred in  Pittsfield on February 17, 2018 and involved a 12-year-old boy.
 
Cases heard before Judge John Agostini on Wednesday, July 25.
 
Daniel Donnelly, 58, of Pittsfield had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf on single counts of breaking and entering in the nighttime and larceny from a building.
 
He was released on  $500 bail. Donnelly is accused of breaking into Lipton Markon South Street in Pittsfield on April 18, 2018.
 
Gerard Menard Jr., 39, of Dalton had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf on single counts of breaking and entering in the nighttime with intent to commit a felony and larceny from a building.
 
He was released on $1,000 bail. Menard is accused of breaking into the Lipton Mart on South Street in Pittsfield on April 18, 2018.
 
Melissa Randolph, 32, of  Pittsfield had not guilty pleas entered on her behalf on single counts of trafficking in cocaine and conspiracy to violate drug laws.
 
She was released on $500 bail. The charges stem from an ongoing investigation into alleged illegal drug activity in Pittsfield on May 16, 2018.
 
Cases heard before Judge John Agostini on Wednesday, July 26.
 
Rashard Garnett, 30, of Pittsfield was sentenced to serve six months at the Berkshire County House of Correction on a single count of possession of cocaine.
 
Garnett was found guilty of the charge on July 12 by a jury. The charge stemmed from the execution of a search warrant on West Street in Pittsfield on March 22, 2016.
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Authorities Say Police Service Weapon Used In Cromwell Ave Shooting

By Andy McKeever
iBerkshires Staff
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Police say the gun used in the shooting on Cromwell Avenue was a Police issued service weapon.
 
A woman, whom authorities continue to refuse to identify, was shot at the home of Officer Miles Barber last Wednesday. She was transported to Berkshire Medical Center following surgery and airlifted to Baystate Medical Center in Springfield. 
 
The District Attorney's office has said that the preliminary investigation appears that the wound was self-inflicted. Pittsfield Police released a statement on Monday saying that the weapon used was the Glock Model 22, .40 caliber pistol that was issued to the 18-year veteran of the force.
 
The gun is now in custody of the Massachusetts State Police Firearms Identification Section pending ballistic testing.
 
Barber has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of an internal administrative investigation. The State Police have taken over the investigation into the shooting.
 

Updated on Thursday, July 19, 2018 at 2:12 p.m.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Preliminary evidence is pointing to a self-inflicted wound in the shooting incident that occurred Wednesday on Cromwell Avenue, say authorities. 
 
At 3:09 Wednesday afternoon, the Pittsfield Police Department received a call reporting that an individual had sustained a gunshot wound at the home of an off-duty Pittsfield Police officer on Cromwell Avenue. 
 
The individual injured in the shooting, identified only as a woman by authorities, is listed in critical but stable condition at Baystate Medical Center. She was airlifted to the Springfield hospital Wednesday evening following emergency surgery at Berkshire Medical Center.
 
According to a statement from the district attorney's office, evidence collected and preliminary interviews conducted reveal that the incident is being considered a case of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, however, the investigation is still in its early stages. The investigation remains active and no further details can be released at this time.
 
The investigation is being conducted by state police detectives assigned to the district attorney’s office, the State Police Crime Scene Services and Ballistics Sections, forensic scientists assigned to the State Police Crime Laboratory. Members of the Pittsfield Police Department are also aiding, according to the statement, although Pittsfield Police Chief Michael Wynn said on Wednesday that the state police will be the lead on the investigation, and the Berkshire County sheriff's department.
 

Original post at 4:59 p.m., July 18, 2018: PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A woman was shot at the home of a city police officer on Wednesday.

 

 
The woman was taken to Berkshire Medical Center where she underwent surgery and is listed in stable condition, according to a statement from the district attorney's office. 
 
Police have not released much in the way of details but say an off-duty officer called in the shooting on Cromwell Avenue on Wednesday afternoon.
 
"At approximately 3:09 in the afternoon we received a call in the dispatch center from an off-duty police officer reporting that he found a shooting incident at his residence," Police Chief Michael Wynn said at the scene.
 
According to land records, the home at 102 Cromwell Ave. is owned by Officer Miles J. Barber but Wynn would not confirm the identity of the homeowner nor the victim.
 
A very brief statement from the district attorney's office at about 6 p.m. confirmed only the information iBerkshires' gleaned from the scene and the update on the victim's status. 
 
The woman's identity was not provided nor her relationship, if any, to Barber, or if he was the one who found her. It's also not clear what firearm was used, who owned it or how the shooting occurred. iBerkshires' has reached out to the DA's office with these questions but has been informed that no further information will be immediately released because it is an active investigation. 
 
Wynn said state police are taking over the investigation since it involves a currently active officer within Pittsfield's ranks.
 
"Based on the fact that there is a law enforcement connection, we immediately requested assistance from the state police Berkshire detective unit and the DA's office. At this point, the ongoing investigation at this scene is being conducted by the state police," he said. "We will be opening a separate administrative investigation once they get through their preliminary."
 
Wynn said there is no current threat to the public. The chief also wouldn't confirm where the officer is now.
 
District Attorney Paul Caccaviello was also there but did not speak to the press.
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Man Arrested For Assault Outside Of Elizabeth Warren Event

Staff Reports
GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — A Hillsdale, N.Y. man was arrested for assault after a confrontation outside of the Mahaiwe Theater before Elizabeth Warren's town hall.
 
Paul Solovay, 74, was arrested and charged with assault and battery and disorderly conduct after pushing a bullhorn microphone back into the face of Shiva Ayyadurai, an independent candidate for the U.S. Senate. 
 
Ayyadurai was campaigning outside of the event when he was approached by Solovay. A verbal confrontation ensued with Ayyadurai eventually calling Solovay a racist through the megaphone repeatedly. Solovay, who left the line to get into the event, then pushed the megaphone back into the face of Ayyadurai.
 
From there it became physical and Ayyadurai's supporters wrestled Solovay to the ground. Great Barrington Police quickly subdued the incident and arrested Solovay.
 
Solovay was released on personal recognizance after being arraigned in Southern Berkshire District Court.
 
Ayyadurai stood outside of the theater with supporters and antagonized the audience. He later heckled Warren when she spoke at the gazebo outside of town hall. He had gotten into numerous verbal confrontations with Warren supporters.
 
Ayyadurai posted a video of the incident on YouTube, which is available below.


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North Adams Man Killed in Motorcycle Accident

Staff Reports

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — A North Adams man was killed after the motorcycle he was driving collided with a car on Church Street on Friday evening.

According to the North Adams Police, Steven Fortier, 49, was driving his 2001 Harley-Davidson motorcycle southbound when he collided with a northbound car Friday night around 10 near 761 Church St. and near where the road forks between Church Street and Ashland Street. According to a press release from the Berkshire district attorney's office, first responders found Fortier lying in the roadway.

He was transported to Berkshire Medical Center's North Adams Campus, where he died from injuries.

Life Flight had initially been called to the scene.

The vehicle that collided with Fortier's motorcycle was a 2015 Audi driven by Joseph Thompson of Adams. Thompson is the director of the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art. Jodi Joseph of Williamstown, also an employee of Mass MoCA, was a passenger in the vehicle. They did not suffer serious injuries, officials said.

The accident is still under investigation by the North Adams Police Department, State Police detectives assigned to the district attorney's office and troopers from the Crime Scene Service Section and the Collision Analysis Reconstruction Section.

Traffic was rerouted during the accident. Church Street was reopened around 3 a.m.

According to Fortier's Facebook page, he was a self-employed Adams native and graduate of Hoosac Valley High School. Just three hours before the accident, he changed his cover picture to a photo of a motorcycle.

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