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Death of Assault Victim Has DA Seeking Murder Charge

Staff Reports
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The Berkshire district attorney intends to seek a murder charge indictment against a North Adams man who has been held by authorities since the brutal beating of his wife five months ago. 
 
Charli Cook, 41, died at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield  on Sunday, Dec. 1. She'd been hospitalized there since July 11 after what authorities say was a brutal attack by her husband, Michael Cook Sr., at their Chase Avenue home. 
 
Michael Cook, then 42 years old, was arraigned in Northern Berkshire District Court on single counts of assault with intent to murder, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon causing serious bodily injury, and assault and battery on a family or household member.
 
With his wife's death on Sunday, District Attorney Andrea Harrington said she will seek a murder charge against Cook. 
 
"I send my condolences to Charli Cook's family and friends," she said in a statement. "The investigators, prosecutors, and victim advocates who have been working on this case were heartbroken by her passing. We are determined to obtain justice for Charli."
 
Michael Cook has been held without bail at  the Berkshire County House of Correction after being determined a danger to the community. 
 
When police responded to the call on July 11, they found Charli Cook unresponsive and bleeding from a large wound on the back of her head. She was taken to Baystate for surgery and had been placed in a coma. She suffered a skull fracture. 
 
The police report filed with initial charges say Cook admitted to the crime on the scene saying,"I just snapped for a minute."
 
According to court records, Cook has a long history of domestic violence and sexual assault, including a conviction for child rape. In 2015, he was charged with assault and battery after allegedly assaulting his wife. That case was dismissed. In 2016, his wife had filed for a restraining order against him, claiming he assaulted her multiple times and mentally abused her.
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State Police Arrests Uncover 1,000 Bags of Heroin

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — State police on Monday night arrested three people on drug charges after a traffic stop on Brown Street. 
 
Sgt. Jorge Berrios, who is assigned to Troop B Berkshire Community Action Team (CAT), stopped a 2011 Chevrolet Cruze at about 7:45 p.m. for a motor vehicle violation. Berrios also learned, just prior to stopping the vehicle, that the registered owner has a suspended driver's license.
 
The driver, Clinton E. Jennings, 35, of Pittsfield, was not the registered owner and is unlicensed, according to state police. With the assistance of Troopers Amy Shaughnessy and Justin Dauplaise, who are also assigned to the CAT, the driver as well as two passengers, Traylee M. Harrington, 25, and Nicholas J. Mathes, 24, both of Pittsfield, were found to be in possession of heroin.
 
In total, approximately 1,000 bags of heroin was located in the vehicle, as well as several items with cocaine residue in Harrington's possession. All three were placed under arrest and transported to state police barracks in Cheshire for booking.
 
All three were charged with trafficking in heroin and conspiracy to violate drug laws; Jennings is also charged with unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle and improper turn, and Harrington with possession of Class B drug (cocaine).
 
Jennings was held on $10,000 bail. Harrington and Mathes posted $40 bail, pending their arraignment. All three were scheduled for arraignments on Tuesday in Central Berkshire District Court.
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Adams Firefighters Quickly Douse Dryer Fire

By Jack Guerino
iBerkshires Staff
ADAMS, Mass. — The Fire Department quickly snuffed out a dryer fire before it extended into a Summit Avenue home Thursday afternoon.
 
Firefighters responded a little after 1 p.m. to a  single-family home at 13 Summit Ave. for a fire that was called in as a dryer fire and possible structure fire. 
 
Fire Chief John Pansecchi said department was out on another call when the Summit Avenue report came in. He said the assistant chief was first on the scene. 
 
"We showed up, there was smoke coming out of the back door and we thought it was in the structure," he said. "Manpower was an issue to start with. I was doing double duty as command and operating the truck and running supplies but we got inside quick and knocked the hell out of it."
 
Pansecchi said Cheshire and Clarksburg were alerted along with North Adams Fire Department. He said because they were able to control the fire so quickly they called off Clarksburg, which had been requested to cover the fire station. North Adams was on scene with its Engine 2 and Cheshire ended up covering the fire station. 
 
Adams Ambulance was also on scene.
 
Pansecchi said the washer and dryer were total losses. Both were both charred and on the front lawn. He said other than that, the homeowner is just looking at some smoke and water damage.
 
He said dryer fires always have the potential to become overwhelming fast.
 
"This was seconds away from being the whole structure," he said. "Everyone did a good job and we appreciate the mutual aid."
 
The trucks started packing up a little after 1:30 p.m.
 
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Trick-or-Treater Struck by Vehicle in Williamstown

Staff Reports
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — A pedestrian struck by a vehicle on Cole Avenue during trick-or-treating hours showed no signs of visible injury, police reported Friday morning.
 
Chief Kyle Johnson said the person struck was transported by Northern Berkshire EMS to the satellite emergency facility at Berkshire Medical Center's North Adams campus as a precaution.
 
The driver involved was cited by police for a lights violation. The driver was operating with just the vehicle's daytime running lights illuminated after sunset, Johnson said. 
 
The chief said it is his understanding that the pedestrian involved was a trick-or-treater. He could not provide the age of the individual.
 
According to the police log referenced by Johnson on Friday morning, the pedestrian attempted to cross between parked cars.
 
"There's no reference to a crosswalk in the paperwork I've seen," he said.
 
Witnesses told iBerkshires.com that it was not raining at the time of the accident, and Johnson confirmed Friday morning that it did not appear weather was a factor in the incident.
 
A number of communities, including North Adams and Pittsfield, postponed trick-or-treating hours to Saturday because of the expectation of heavy rain and high winds, neither of which arrived until after midnight. There was, however, light and misty rains throughout the evening. 
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Authorities Make Arrest in Adams Structure Fire Incident

Staff Reports

Authorities detour traffic at the mall entrance in Lanesborough as they take the suspect into custody. 
The Adams Police Department has released more information on Tuesday's fire and suspect chase.
 
According to a statement released on Wednesday morning,"Based on the information provided to police from witnesses along with family and friends there was concern that the fire had been intentionally set, and that firearms had been stolen from the home."
 
The suspect in the incident then fled to Pittsfield where he was involved in a "domestic situation" that resulted in a lockdown of city schools and a countywide "be on the look out," or BOLO, for himself and the red Subaru he was driving. 
 
He was sighted by a Lenox Police officer about 3:15 p.m. but when the officer attempted to stop him, he fled with the officer in pursuit. The suspect was finally arrested in Lanesborough near the northern Berkshire Mall entrance "after a brief stand-off with police."
 
The incident is still under investigation by multiple agencies and he is currently being held pending arraignment in district court.
 
The release by the Adams Police Department states it "would like to thank its officers, and the other agencies involved in the investigation of this incident."

******************************************************************************************************************


The East Road home was in flames when firefighters arrived.

Original post on 4:31 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 23: ADAMS, Mass. — Officials are investigating a structure fire on East Road on Tuesday afternoon that destroyed a single-family home. 

 
Authorities declined to provide more information but the scene was cordoned off as a crime scene and police were on the lookout for an individual who had reportedly fled the area in a red Subaru, according to scanner reports. 
 
"It is an open investigation and we have a long way to go," said Adams Police Detective Michael Wandrei.
 
The suspect was arrested at about 3:45 p.m. on Tuesday — about two hours after the fire was reported — after leading police on a chase that ended near the Berkshire Mall. 
 
Fire Chief John Pansecchi said the call came in at 1:21 p.m. and that there was significant smoke and fire when firefighters arrived at 151 East Road. 
 
"What we were advised that there was smoke coming from the house and someone was trying to get the dog out," he said. "When I arrived they had heavy smoke across the whole attic area of the house and fire venting out the roof."
 
Mutual aid was called into Cheshire and North Adams fire departments and Clarksburg Fire Department covered the station. Adams Ambulance Service and Northern Berkshire EMS also responded. 
 
"The guys got in there and we got it knocked it down," he said. "The guys did a great job."
 
Pansecchi said the owners were not in the house at the time of the fire and that when firefighters arrived, they found the dog tied outside and safe. 
 
The fire chief alluded to the fact the fire began when no one was home as the reason for an investigation. That was being done, he said, by state fire marshal's office, himself and Adams Police. 
 
According to an individual with knowledge of the afternoon's events, the suspect is related to the home's owners. The house is owned by Jerome Cross, according to town documents. 
 
Pittsfield Police posted on Facebook that they were looking for Courtney Cross, 34, last seen operating a red 2017 Subaru WRX at 2 p.m. on North Street and who was wanted by Adams Police. "Witness information is that Cross is in possession of firearms," states the post, adding that no one should approach him but instead call 911. It was not clear from listening to the scanner if Cross had any firearms.
 
The fire marshal's office was "extremely interested in the clothing" the suspect was wearing, one scanner post stated. Officers were told over the scanner to ensure that the clothing of the individual stopped and arrested that afternoon was properly cited as evidence.
 
Pansecchi was awaiting the arrival of investigators from the state fire marshal's office and expected to be on the scene for some time. The owners of the home had made arrangements to stay elsewhere, he said, and did not require aid from the Red Cross. 
 
The road was closed off for several hours.
 
This story will be updated as more information becomes available. ... 
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