Authorities Still Searching For Escaped Inmate
Sheriff Thomas Bowler says he believes Chandler is still in the area.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Sheriff Thomas Bowler is asking 33-year-old Harry Chandler to turn himself in peacefully.
The sheriff said a number of law enforcement agencies are still searching for Chandler more than 24 hours after he escaped custody while being treated at Berkshire Medical Center.
Chandler was arrested on July 3 on a number of warrants and was being treated at the hospital for infections in his hands when he assaulted the corrections officer and escaped.
"At this time we would encourage Mr. Chandler to turn himself in peacefully. We are working with members of his family and have made contact with his attorney. We further encourage the public to report possible sightings to the Berkshire County Sheriff's Office, the Pittsfield Police Department, or the Massachusetts State Police if Mr. Chandler is observed at all," Bowler said on Tuesday during a press conference updating the public on the operation.
Chandler had been in the hospital since his arrest and, shortly after 2 p.m. on Monday, he was uncuffed to change from hospital garments to jail garments as he was being released from treatment and to be transported to the Berkshire County House of Correction. After getting the orange pants on, Chandler allegedly assaulted the guard watching him and then fled the hospital.
Bowler said the guard was treated for minor injuries and is back to work, even joining the manhunt to find him.
"We've been following leads with close to 50 law enforcement officers between the three agencies and federal resources. We were following leads until 4:30 this morning and then we regrouped again today at 8, 8:30 this morning," Bowler said.
Chandler was homeless at the time of his arrest but his family remains in the area. Bowler said his family is "very much involved" in the search. On social media, his sister made a plea on a number of posts hoping he'd see it and turn himself in.
"He is in the wrong and I hope he gets quickly and safely apprehended and gets the held he needs... he is also someone's son, brother, father, and loved one. Little Harry if you read this I implore you to turn your self in," Carrie Chandler wrote on a number of forums.
The 33-year-old Dalton native was once a champion Judo fighter who would ultimately begin to build a criminal record and struggle with addiction. Over the years he faced a number of changes for such things as assault and battery and breaking and entering.
In this latest arrest, the pending charges were breaking and entering, assaulting a police officer, drug possession, trespass, shoplifting, assault, and battery with a dangerous weapon and failing to register as a sex offender.
"Mr. Chandler's criminal history, we do believe that he has some assaultive behavior, he is obviously a concern for us and we hope to apprehend him as soon as possible," Bowler said.
If or when he is caught, he'd be facing charges for escaping and assaulting an officer as well.
Authorities don't believe he is an immediate threat to the public at large. However, it does give Bowler cause for concern that he has shown the willingness to be aggressive.
Bowler encourages the public not to approach Chandler if they see him but instead call the authorities.
"We certainly have no information that Mr. Chandler has accessed any weapons. He has already displayed aggressive behavior toward one of our individuals. He has some aggressive behavior in the past so obviously that is is a concern. That is why we are dealing with the family. We got the word into many of his associates to hopefully turn himself in so we can have a peaceful resolution," Bowler said.
Bowler believes he is still in the immediate area and authorities have followed up on tips in Pittsfield, Dalton, and in one case Great Barrington.
The search launched on Monday included the sheriff's office, Pittsfield Police, and officers from the Lanesborough Police Department. The Massachusetts State Police joined and a police helicopter searched for him.
The search continues with officers from the Sheriff's Office, Pittsfield Police, Massachusetts State Police, and an officer from the FBI, which Bowler said will bring technological resources to the effort.
The sheriff's office released a mugshot of Chandler and advised that he currently does not have the facial hair as photographed. He also may appear a bit thinner than in the photograph.
Authorities Searching for Escaped Inmate in Pittsfield
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Law enforcement authorities are on the lookout for a House of Corrections inmate who overpowered a sheriff's deputy and fled while being treated at Berkshire Medical Center.
The man, who was being held by the Berkshire County Sheriff's Department for pretrial, took off wearing only a pair of orange inmate pants — no shirt, no shoes.
The suspect, 33-year-old Harry Chandler, was arrested on several outstanding warrants on July 3, including failure to register as a sex offender. He escaped custody at about 2:07 p.m. Monday.
"He is a fugitive and he is at large so he is a concern," Sheriff Thomas Bowler said.
Chandler has several violent offenses on his record and although not considered an immediate threat to the public, Bowler said he is "obviously a concern" because he is "unpredictable at this time with his emotions and his addiction."
"He's more of an immediate danger to himself than I think to the public," Bowler said. "He's in a bad way, he has a severe addiction. ...
"But obviously, we're concerned because he's at bay, he overpowered one of our officers at the hospital and was able to get free."
Anyone seeing Chandler should contact authorities immediately at 413-442-0512. .
Chandler was suffering from infections in his hands at the time of his arrest and was taken to BMC.
"He needed medical treatment for infections to his hands down to at Berkshire Medical Center since the 3rd and he was getting released today to come back into our custody," the sheriff said. He did not know the immediate condition of the deputy, who was being treated at BMC.
Chandler was being held on charges including breaking and entering, assaulting a police officer, drug possession, trespass, shoplifting, assault and batter with a dangerous weapon and failing to register as a sex offender.
Pittsfield Police and sheriff's deputies were scouring the immediate area of the hospital and the Lanesborough Police Department was assisting. Bowler said other resources would be called upon as needed. He said Chandler's family has been cooperating with law enforcement.
Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Harry Chandler should call the sheriff's department at 413-442-0512.
Complete write-thru with updated information and quotes at 4:21 p.m.; more information added at 4:35 p.m. regarding threat to public and added photo.
Pittsfield Man Killed Motor Vehicle Collision
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A Pittsfield man was killed early Tuesday morning in a motor vehicle accident on West Housatonic Street.
Michael Lamphear, 54, of East Housatonic Street was westbound on his motorcycle at about 7:48 a.m. when he collided with a Jeep pulling out of the intersection at Osceola Street. The sport utility vehicle was being driven by 25-year-old Abigail Hunt, who was not injured.
The collision occurred in the westbound travel lane of West Housatonic Street. A section of the highway, Route 20, was closed to traffic and detoured. Eastbound tractor trailer units were detoured over Route 41 to West Street. The road was reopened about 1:44 p.m.
State Police detectives assigned to the Berkshire district attorney's office are investigating the fatal incident.
Responding to the scene of the crash was Berkshire District Attorney Andrea Harrington, the State Police Detective Unit assigned to the her office, the State Police Collision Analysis and Reconstruction Section, as well as the State Police Crime Scene Services Section.
The Pittsfield Police Department's Traffic and Detective bureaus also responded, as did the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.
Lenox Woman Struck Crossing Route 7 on Friday
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — An 85-year-old Lenox woman was struck by a car on South Street, Route 7, on Friday night.
The victim, whose name has not be released, was taken to Berkshire Medical Center by Action Ambulance with what police are describing as "serous injuries." The woman was initially treated at the scene by firefighters.
According to police, officers were dispatched at about 9:36 on Friday night to the area of 1035 South St. for a reported pedestrian accident. There are a number of businesses in that area, including hotels and several eateries.
The preliminary investigation has shown that just prior to the collision, a 2011 Toyota Sienna van operated by Linda Limoges, 53, of Manchester, Vt., was northbound in the vicinity of 1035 South. At this time, the victim was attempting to cross the roadway in an easterly direction, when she was hit by the van.
The Pittsfield Police Department Accident Reconstruction Unit responded to the scene. Officer Michael Silver is the lead investigator in this case. Those who may have witnessed the crash are asked to contact him at 413-448-9700, Ext. 596.
Video Leads to Animal Cruelty Charge For Pittsfield Woman
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Police are charging a city woman with animal cruelty after a video of her carrying her small dog by the collar went viral locally.
Police say on Sunday at about 9:30 a.m. they responded to a report of cruelty at the First Street Common earlier in the day. Police reviewed video evidence and witness accounts and determined to summons Melinda Alston, 44, to answer for a single count of cruelty to animals.
Police said the dog in question was observed and is in good health.
A video of the incident had been posted to Facebook showing the woman, police believe was Alston, yelling at the small dog before picking up into the air by the collar. The woman was confrontational with the witness recording the video. The video received numerous comments, shares, and views — and many comments had tagged the Pittsfield Police Department or called to report the incident.
Police Chief Michael Wynn on Wednesday afternoon released the statement regarding the charge.
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