06/28/2007

Mass. officers wrestle gun from man at police station

By Jenn Smith
The Berkshire Eagle 

DALTON, Mass. Two Dalton police officers thwarted a potentially threatening situation when a local man approached the police station with a gun.

Daniel Dewey, 20, of Dalton, rang the call box of the locked Carson Avenue station just after 5 a.m. on Tuesday, Police Chief John W. Bartels Jr. reported yesterday.

Officer Geoff Powell proceeded to answer the door. Later in a complaint statement, the officer described Dewey as "someone I have dealt with before on the job."

Powell opened the door, and the young man told the officer that he needed to speak with him about something.

The two stepped outside so Dewey could have a smoke.

Dewey told Powell that he was having an issue with the state. After less than a minute of conversation, Dewey reached into the right side of his waist and pulled a handgun out of a holster and turned the weapon onto himself.

The gun was later identified as a loaded 1872 black powder revolver.

The officer began struggling for control over the gun, and Dewey was eventually able to point it away and place a portion of his left hand between the hammer and the cylinder so it could not be fired.

With his free hand, Powell alerted his midnight shift partner, Officer Deanna Strout, who was just down the street and arrived quickly.

In the meantime, Powell said Dewey told him he did not want to hurt him. In his statement, Powell said, "I told him that we could not talk while he had a gun. I told him to drop the gun several times. I could only feel him continuing to tense up as each second passed."

Upon arrival, Strout drew her own firearm and asked Dewey to drop his weapon, which he did after several requests. Powell was able to push the gun away.

The two officers then struggled with Dewey as he resisted being handcuffed. After a few seconds, the man was secured. No one was injured in the scuffle.

The young man was immediately booked and detained.

"Both officers did an outstanding job," said Bartels, who was called to the station immediately after the incident had occurred.

He described both Powell and Strout to be "calm and collected" upon his arrival. "They had a textbook reaction," he said.

Upon searching Dewey, the officers found a backpack and a sheath on his left hip which contained two knives. They also found a half-empty bottle of Jägermeister liquor and a piece of white, lined paper in his backpack on which appeared to be written a suicide note.

Dewey was arraigned in Central Berkshire District Court on Tuesday charged with assault with a dangerous weapon, disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, carrying a firearm without a license, and being a minor in possession of alcohol.

Although a license is not needed to purchase a black powder firearm, it is required to have a license to carry it outside of a business or residence.

Judge Frederic Rutberg ordered that Dewey be held without bail in the Berkshire County House of Corrections until he is to return to court on July 29.

"If it wasn't for (the officers') reactions, this would've turned out much worse," said Bartels, who noted that he's never had an incident like this happen in his 27-plus years on the force.

"They saved the life of one person and they were able to save the lives of each other. I can tell you, I'm thankful for that," he said.

Incidentally, Powell will soon be leaving the police department. He has been serving as a temporary full-time officer for the past 18 months.

However, due to the fact that Strout has lost her job as a school resource officer at Nessacus Middle School and will be returning to regular patrol, and because of budget cuts and the department's decision not to replace retiring officer Kevin Miller, Powell's position has been cut.

Copyright 2007 MediaNews Group, Inc. and New England Newspaper Group Inc.

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