Great Barrington Firefighters Douse Blaze in Historic Railroad Street Block
GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — Firefighters battled a one-alarm fire late Thursday night that threatened to destroy a downtown landmark.
Fire Chief Charles Burger said firefighters responded just after 11 p.m. to Martin's Restaurant, 49 Railroad St., where they found fire in a first-floor kitchen of a two-story downtown block with attached exposures.
Police Officer Chad Shimmon was on the scene discharging an extinguisher through an open window, which helped slow the fire growth. The second-floor apartment was searched to verify it was unoccupied. The first engine on scene was able to quickly control the fire while additional crews checked for extension, ventilated and performed salvage operations.
Fire damage was limited to the first-floor kitchen, though there was smoke and heat damage throughout the restaurant. Second-floor tenants were able to return to their apartment after firefighters ventilated the residence.
The popular restaurant owned by Martin Lewis is open from early morning to late afternoon.
Twenty-one firefighters from Great Barrington responded to Thursday night's fire. The department was assisted on scene by the Lenox Fire Department's Rapid Intervention Team, Great Barrington Police and National Grid. Southern Berkshire Ambulance, along with the Fire Department's Support Group, were on scene providing firefighter rehab. Sheffield Fire covered Great Barrington's fire station.
"I am proud of the quick work done by our department last night," Burger said in a statement. "I would also like to thank all the agencies who assisted us. We were able to save a downtown landmark in Great Barrington."
The business is insured. The cause is under investigation, but is not considered suspicious.
Conn. Woman Charged With Striking Pedestrians in Great Barrington
GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — Police have charged an elderly woman for crashing her vehicle into two women and two children while they were crossing the roadway on Friday morning, according to Chief William Walsh.
At about 10:49 a.m., two women, along with an 11-month-old baby girl who was in a stroller and a 3-year-old girl, were crossing in a crosswalk on Main Street at Railroad Street. At the same time, an 87-year-old woman from Canaan, Conn., who was southbound on Main Street, failed to yield and struck all four, said police.
All four were injured and transported by ambulance to Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield with non-life-threatening injuries.
The operator, who was the sole occupant of the car, was not injured. She was charged with negligent operation of a motor vehicle and failure to yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk. She will be summonsed to court at a later date.
Great Barrington Police were assisted by the Fire Department, the Southern Berkshire Volunteer Ambulance Squad, North Canaan (Conn.) Volunteer Ambulance Corps, the Sheffield Police Department and the Monterey Police Department.
The incident remains under investigation by the Great Barrington Police Department.
Great Barrington Police Officer Killed in Friday Morning Crash
STOCKBRIDGE, Mass. — An off-duty Great Barrington police officer died early Friday morning after his pickup truck hit a tree on Prospect Hill Road in Stockbridge.
Stockbridge Police Chief Darrell Fennelly said 25-year-old Ryan A. Storti of Muddy Brook Circle was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash, which was reported shortly after 2 a.m. According to a statement from the Great Barrington Police Department, Storti was alone and on his way home when he lost control of his truck and struck a tree on the side of the road.
The investigation is being conducted by members of the Stockbridge Police Department with assistance from the Massachusetts State Police Collision Analysis and Reconstruction Section.
"Officer Storti was a wonderful young man and police officer," Great Barrington Police Chief William Walsh said in a statement. "He was everything we wanted in a police officer and was part of our future. We're all struggling right now as we also try to support Ryan's family. Please keep them all in your thoughts."
Storti, a 2008 graduate of Monument Mountain Regional High School, had been a reserve officer in Great Barrington until being appointed to a permanent position in 2015. He graduated from Berkshire Community College and from the Western Massachusetts Police Academy in Springfield.
"Officer Storti was a rising star for our police department. I am devastated to learn of his sudden death," Town Manager Jennifer Tabakin said in a statement. "This is a tragedy and an enormous loss for the Police, our Town and the entire community. Our hearts go out to Ryan's family and all who loved him and worked with him every day in public service. He will forever be in our thoughts and prayers."
Funeral arrangements are pending.
Pittsfield Man Charged in Break-in, Stealing Pickup Truck
GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — A Pittsfield man has been arrested in connection with a break-in at a Stockbridge Road restaurant after leading police on a chase across several South County towns.
Chief William Walsh said the Great Barrington Police Department, working collaboratively with neighboring police, arrested the man on Wednesday.
Nathan P. Lopes, 22, of Tyler Street has been charged with:
• Breaking and entering into a building during the nighttime to commit a felony
• Larceny over $250
• Possession of a stolen vehicle
The arrest of Lopes is part of an ongoing investigation into break-ins and larcenies from several buildings and businesses in multiple communities late Tuesday evening into Wednesday, including Egremont and West Stockbridge. Additional charges may be forthcoming.
At approximately 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Egremont Police received a call from county dispatch of a possible break-in at a house on Seekonk Cross Road. At the same time, Egremont Sgt. Hans Carlsen was investigating a suspicious vehicle in the parking lot of Mom's Restaurant on Route 23 in Egremont.
That officer informed dispatch that Seekonk Cross Road was located in Great Barrington. Great Barrington Police Officer Victor Zucco was unable to find the house on Seekonk Cross Road, and it is now believed that the operator of the suspicious vehicle at Mom's made a fake call to thwart police.
While searching for the house break-in, Zucco observed taillights in the distance and attempted to catch up with the vehicle. The vehicle, a pickup truck, kept driving away and Zucco lost sight of it. Both Zucco and Carlsen continued to search for the truck and crossed into Alford. While on East Road, Carlsen saw the truck in front of him going at a high rate of speed and he attempted to stop it. The truck crashed into a tree whereupon the operator fled on foot while throwing away wads of cash.
The suspect, identified as Lopes was captured, subdued, and placed in handcuffs. He was then transported to Fairview Hospital for minor facial injuries. The truck was a total loss.
State police from the Lee Barracks were called to investigate the accident as the incident was now in West Stockbridge.
Lopes was found to be intoxicated and operating the vehicle with a suspended license, and he will face additional charges from the state police.
Around 9 a.m., police at the accident scene in West Stockbridge notified Great Barrington Police that they found receipts from the Xicohtencatl Mexican Restaurant on Stockbridge Road in Great Barrington. Officer Adam Carlotto went to the closed restaurant and found an open window and fresh footprints. The owners later confirmed that they were missing money.
Police also recovered a large amount of cash, some beer and more receipts from Xicohtencatl while inventorying Lopes' possessions after his arrest.
Early Wednesday morning, a Pittsfield resident called the Pittsfield Police Department to report his truck stolen. The truck turned out to be the same truck that Lopes was operating.
Police from Great Barrington, Pittsfield, Egremont, and state police and the State Police Crime Scene Services Section all worked together Wednesday on the investigation, which remains ongoing.
Lopes is being held on $7,500 bail at the Great Barrington lockup and will be arraigned in Southern Berkshire District Court on Thursday morning.
Great Barrington Residential School Under Investigation for Abuse
GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — Multiple law enforcement agencies descended on the private Eagleton School on Saturday night as part of an investigation into abuse of the students there.
Under the direction of Berkshire District Attorney David F. Capeless and the State Police Detective Unit assigned to his office, a search warrant was executed at the residential facility involving approximately 50 state, local and federal law enforcement officers.
The warrant was issued as a result of an ongoing investigation into allegations of physical and emotional abuse on students by staff at the Monterey Road school, according to a statement from the district attorney's office. Accompanying investigators were personnel from the State Department of Early Education and Care who were on scene to ensure the safety of the students and the continued, proper operation of the school.
"The health and well-being of the children at Eagleton School is of utmost importance to EEC. The Department of Early Education and Care is overseeing and actively monitoring the program’s operations and will continue to do so to ensure the children remain safe. EEC is working with law enforcement and is conducting an investigation into the program jointly with the Department of Children and Families. EEC will take further action as warranted in response to our on-going investigation," reads a statement from Thomas Weber, commissioner of the department.
Eagleton is a private year-round residential school for boys and young men with special needs including autism and Asperger's syndrome.
The investigation into allegations of physical and emotional abuse on students by staff was initiated by the Great Barrington Police Department in early January. According to a statement on behalf of the town Great Barrington, police will remain at the school "to ensure that the collection of evidence related to the investigation proceeds in a thorough, coordinated, and orderly manner."
Capeless praised the work of lead investigators Great Barrington Police Officer Jonathan Finnerty and State Trooper Gregory Denys.
"Their persistence and professionalism uncovered this terrible situation and will allow us to seek justice on behalf of these vulnerable victims," he said in a statement.
Town officials said further details cannot be released at this time but that there is no danger to the general community.
"Great Barrington is home to a number of public and private schools that serve a diverse population of students across a broad spectrum, and we want the community — and the parents at home — to be aware of a police investigation that is ongoing. However, there is no danger and no threats have been made to the safety of anyone," Police Chief William Walsh Jr., in a statement. "More information will be released as soon as it is available."
Those involved in the execution of the Saturday evening search warrant include investigators from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, state police, the Berkshire County sheriff's department and local police from the Great Barrington, Williamstown and Dalton Police departments, members of the Berkshire Law Enforcement Task Force. Also participating were personnel from the State Police Crime Scene Services Section and the Digital Evidence and Multimedia Section.
Editor's note: Arraignment information updated again at 4:27 p.m. on Feb. 1.