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Second Victim in Great Barrington Fire Dies

GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — Monday's structure fire in Great Barrington has claimed a second victim. 

Susan Romano, 67, died at Albany (N.Y.) Medical Center on Tuesday night. Her husband, Michael Romano, died Monday night. 
 
"On behalf of the town of Great Barrington, I offer our heartfelt condolences to their family. Every fire death is tragic, but the loss cuts deeper during the holidays," Great Barrington Fire Chief Charles Burger said.
 
The couple were pulled from their 24 Silver St. home by firefighters on at about 7:40 p.m. on Monday night. Both were unresponsive and Michael Romano died shortly after at Fairview Hospital. 
 
The fire was contained to the Romano's unit in the eight-apartment building. The blaze is under investigation but the early focus has been on an accidental cause, according to authorities. 
 

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Original post: Dec. 10, 2019, at 11:52 a.m.

GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — One man has died and a woman is in critical condition after a fire Monday evening at the Beech Tree Commons apartment complex.

The Berkshire District attorney's office has identified the deceased as Michael Romano, 68. As of Tuesday, Susan Romano, 67, remains hospitalized at Albany (N.Y.) Medical Center as a result of injuries sustained in the blaze.

The Fire Department was dispatched to a reported structure fire with possible entrapment at 24 Silver St. at approximately 7:40 p.m. Monday. Fire units found fire venting from a rear apartment of an eight-unit apartment building.

A primary search was initiated along with fire attack, officials said in a news release. Two unresponsive occupants were located and rescued within minutes. Southern Berkshire Ambulance provided medical care and transported both patients to Fairview Hospital, where Michael Romano was pronounced dead. 

The fire was quickly knocked down and contained to one unit. Utilities were shut off to the building, forcing the occupants to seek alternative housing for the evening. Accommodations at local hotels were provided by the Beech Tree Commons management.

A second alarm was initially requested dispatching Monterey, Egremont, Stockbridge and Sheffield fire departments but canceled when the fire was brought under control. Great Barrington Fire received assistance on scene from Great Barrington Police, Southern Berkshire Ambulance and the Fire Department Support Group. Lenox Fire provided a RIT team and Sheffield Fire provided station coverage.

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner will conduct an autopsy to determine the cause of death.

Investigators do not believe the cause of the fire is suspicious at this time but the investigation remains ongoing. The Office of the State Fire Marshal, Great Barrington Fire and Police, and Massachusetts State Police are investigating.

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Two Get Maximum Sentences In Domestic Violence Cases

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Two men who pleaded guilty in domestic assault cases last week were given the maximum jail sentences 2 1/2 years at the Berkshire County House of Correction.
 
Steven Signor, 32, of Pittsfield pleaded guilty in Central Berkshire District Court to two counts of assault and battery on a household member, two counts of violating an abuse prevention order, and single counts of assault and battery on a pregnant woman, resisting arrest, intimidation of a witness, breaking and entering, and vandalism.
 
Judge Mark Pasquariello sentenced Signor serve 2 1/2 years, the maximum allowable sentence for a single charge in District Court.
 
The charges relate to four separate incidents over the last year and a half. The Berkshire district attorney's office cited Signor's repeated behavior and disregard for court orders in asking for the maximum sentence. The defense argued for a one year sentence.
 
Jonathan Therrien, 30, of Adams pleaded guilty in Northern Berkshire District Court to assault and battery on a household member and violation of an abuse prevention order. The charges relate to an incident on Nov. 1 in Adams.
 
The DA's office requested the full 2 1/2-year sentence, noting a lengthy record of similar convictions in other states. The defense asked for one year. Judge Paul Vrabel sentenced Therrien to the full sentence.
 
"We obtained these guilty pleas thanks to comprehensive investigations by the Pittsfield and Adams police departments and are examples of how my office is working with law enforcement to prioritize violent crime. Berkshire County has the highest domestic violence rates in the state. These statistics represent real families who are living in violent homes," District Attorney Andrea Harrington said in a statement. "We are making every effort to prevent tragedy both to the individuals who are suffering from abuse, to local law enforcement who face risk every time they respond to domestic violence incidents, and to the public at large who face increased risk of gun violence from domestic abusers."
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Adams Police Make Arrest After Armed Standoff

By Jack Guerino

ADAMS, Mass. — Police arrested a man Sunday after an armed standoff.

Police responded to a call about a domestic assault and battery in progress at a Commercial Street residence around noon Sunday. According to a press release from the Adams Police Department, upon arrival, police found a woman who had escaped from the house. She advised the officers that there was an armed man inside the home with her two children.
 
"She stated that he was armed with a firearm and threatened to shoot responding officers," the release stated.
 
Officers led the woman to safety and called the state police for backup, as well as the North Adams Police Department and the Berkshire County Special Response Team.
 
While backup was en route, Adams Police made contact with the man in the house via telephone. He agreed to surrender. He exited the home and was arrested without incident.
 
"The firearm was located and secured, and the children were located and were also deemed to be safe," according to the release.
 
The man was transported to the Adams Police Department. He was ordered held on $10,000 cash bail and will await arraignment at Northern Berkshire District Court to face multiple charges from this incident.
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Vermont Woman Killed in Route 9 Crash in Searsburg

SEARSBURG, Vt. -- A 19-year-old Guilford woman was killed late Sunday morning when she lost control of her sport utility vehicle on Route 9. 
 
Pooja Meyer was driving her 1999 Honda Civic east near Sleepy Hollow Road when, according to state police, she passed another vehicle, lost control and veered into the westbound lane and into the path of a tractor-trailer. Her car collided with the 2020 Western Star operated by Richard Regan, 53, of Keene, N.H.
 
State police from the Shaftsbury barracks responded to the scene at about 11:42 a.m. Among the responding units was Stamford Volunteer Fire Department, which responded to mutual aid and a request for the Jaws of Life. 
 
Meyer, a recently graduated licensed practical nurse, was pronounced dead at the scene. Regan was taken to Readsboro School for a life flight transfer to Albany (N.Y.) Medical Center with non-life-threatening injuries.   
 
Police say both drivers were wearing their seat belts and that the road was clear but wet. The Honda was totaled and the truck incurred front end damage. The roadway was closed for almost seven hours. 
 
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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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