FAIL

I don’t like to post on my days off, but this one definitely requires it.
In my story today on a city parking clerk being placed on paid leave pending an investigation into possible misuse of authority, I made probably the dumbest mistake of my career.
Or at least I hope it’s the dumbest mistake of my career.
I got the subject’s first name wrong.
But that’s not where it ends.
Not only did I get the subject’s first name wrong, the incorrect name that I included in the story is, in fact, the name of someone else I know and cover.
To keep from compounding the mistake I’m not going to repeat that name here, or say who the person is, but suffice to say that she is armed, and trained in the use of firearms.
Lucky for me she’s a better person than I, so hopefully she’ll accept my apology. I thought I’d make a public apology just in case.
I’ve gotta take 100 percent of the blame on this one too, because the people who proofread my story last night had virtually no way of catching this mistake. I spelled the incorrect name correctly. I just had the name wrong.
I proofread that story like 6 times too, just because it was sensitive and I was so worried about making any stupid mistakes.
I’ve added this entry about myself to the category of posts I created for telling stories about stupid criminals.
I definitely earned it last night.

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Town Administrator In Handcuffs

Allison Myrick was beaten before she was stabbed to death. I was standing at the police tape on Saturday when a woman first arrived screaming, crying while she asked police if her daughter was okay.
I’m not sure if that was Allison’s mother, but the day after the murder, Allison’s mother and father asked that people learn from the case, and speak out more against abusive relationships.
I guess that’s why I’m coming dangerously close to editorializing when I say I don’t think domestic assaults are ever, ever, EVER a private matter.
This is from the arrest log of the Manchester NH Police.
Gaydos, Thomas of 76 Heather St, Manchester, NH; Arrested on charge of: Simple Assault (M), at 76 Heather St, Manchester, on 1/21/2010.
This is the profile for the town administrator in Pelham, N.H.
Somehow it appears other media outlets, including The Sun, missed this story until tonight. It’s easy to do. Domestics are probably the most common arrest log entry I do. The fact is they happen all the time, every day, in every town.
Despite my comments above, I hope I kept my story on this arrest fair and free from any editorializing.
Pelham Selectmen are 100 percent correct that he is innocent until proven guilty. This also doesn’t sound like it’s at all on the severe end of domestic assaults. Considering how little police said to describe the assault, it could be as simple as a push or a slap.
I’d also like to say that I am in no way comparing Mr. Gaydos and Robert Gulla. Tonight’s story was a vastly different situation. By slipping by and going unmentioned, though, it just reminded me that I think it sucks that so many domestics get ignored.
I wish we had the space to cover every single one.
I think it’s about time people stop acting like domestic assaults aren’t a big deal. And I think it’s about time people stop acting like they aren’t everybody’s business.

Home Destroyed in Dracut

It sounded like firefighters never had a chance to save an 1,800 square-foot house that was destroyed by a two-alarm fire near Peter’s Pond in Dracut tonight.
The two-story Colonial at 2 Thomas Street was already fully involved when firefighters got called about 9:25 p.m.
Crews fought the blaze from outside, but still had to work their butts off.

Window

They initially used tankers and the limited amount of water in engines to fight the flames while other crews stretched a total of four hose lines over 4,000 feet to the nearest fire hydrant on Broadway Road (Route 113).
Homeowner Jane Dimauro told me she had been gone all day long, first at classes and then at work in Lowell. She was just leaving work when a neighbor called her and told her the house was on fire.
Dimauro’s daughter, Mary Dimauro, 18, is a senior at Dracut High School.

Window

Jane told me they would stay with her ex-husband Tuesday night. Her home was completely destroyed, and the roof had already collapsed by the time I got to the scene. By the time I left, there was practically nothing left but the home’s frame.

Window

Dimauro was at a loss for how the fire could have started. She had been gone all day, and said she only left one light on since she knew she would be home after dark.
State Fire Marshall Stephen Coan’s Office was called in to assist the investigation.
Fire Chief Leo Gaudette was still busy directing efforts to fight the fire last night, and said the investigation had barely even started as crews were still working.
All of these photos are by Julia Malakie, not me, as you can probably tell by the quality.
Here’s some video of the flames.

Interesting Gun Arrest

This is a pretty good one, and everyone at Lowell PD is giving credit to Officer James Matos and Officer PJ Johnson from the response unit for it.
Matos and Johnson were on patrol Saturday night about 8 near School and Liberty streets when they stopped a car for a motor vehicle infraction. A passenger was making furtive movements, so they checked everything out for their safety.
Turned out the passenger had a loaded gun, according to police.
Turns out the passenger was Geovanni Rivera-Sosa, who I’ve most certainly written about before.
To be honest, though, I never gave enough ink to this guy when police were searching for him back in the Fall of 2008. The amount of work LPD put into finding him back then was pretty impressive.
He was charged with one shots fired incident on Merrimack Street, in which a Ford Taurus was shot up as it was parked on the curb, but police told me they also suspected him for a similar incident on Butterfield Street.
As you can see from the link, Rivera-Sosa made bail pretty much immediately thanks to Lowell District Court, and then returned to the blog in the summer of 2009, when he allegedly poured an open container of beer onto the shoes of an officer.
This time he’s in a little more trouble than he was for the open container.
He is charged with carrying a loaded firearm, unlawful possession of a firearm, and unlawful possession of ammunition. Police say he also had three default warrants for failing to appear in court.
He was held over the weekend, and will be arraigned Monday in Lowell District Court.

Shooting and Stabbing in Shirley

I’ve been swamped working on this tonight, so instead of doing an independent blog entry I’m just going to post the story that Nick and I put together over the course of the night.
Someone will be checking in the courts tomorrow to try and see if there is a history of violence here, and what the assault and battery charges against Gulla were all about back in December.
By Robert Mills
rmills@lowellsun.com
Nick Mallard
nmallard@sentinelandenterprise.com
SHIRLEY — A 19-year-old Shirley man who suffered stab and gunshot wounds during a Saturday night incident in Shirley that also left a 19-year-old Groton woman dead has been described as a person of interest in the investigation.
Meanwhile, the family of the girl, Allison Myrick of Groton, said their daughter’s death “stemmed from an abusive relationship.”
Acting Police Chief Gregory Massak would not comment on the statements of the Myrick family, but called Robert Gulla, 19, a “person of interest” in the ongoing investigation into what happened inside the small, ranch-style house at 4 Morin St.
Massak was clear that he was not calling Gulla a suspect.
Police went to the home on a small dead-end off Leominster Street on Saturday about 8 p.m., and found Myrick already dead. She had “obvious stab wounds,” according to a spokesman for District Attorney Gerard Leone.
Gulla was found suffering from both stab and gunshot wounds, and was flown to UMass Medical Center in Worcester, where he remained in critical condition last night, according to a statement from Leone’s office.
A plainclothes investigator at the crime scene Saturday night was overhead saying, “He’s shot in the head,” while speaking on a cell phone.
Jessica Venezia, a spokesman for Leone, would not comment on the Myrick family’s statements, but said investigators have no reason to believe that a suspect is at large in the community.
She said authorities continue to investigate the circumstances of the incident, but they do not believe it to be a random attack.
Myrick’s family said she was a freshman at Fitchburg State College. She was a 2008 graduate of Groton-Dunstable Regional High School, where she was an honors student.
“She was a smart, talented, funny, courageous, compassionate and sweet young woman,” Myrick’s parents said in a statement. “Her death stemmed from an abusive relationship with a young man she met a few short months ago. Despite all our efforts, we were unable to convince Alli of the danger she was in.”
In a separate statement released through police, the Myrick family requested their privacy as they grieve.
Arrest logs show Gulla was arrested at 4 Morin St., on Dec. 10, and charged with vandalism and three counts of assault and battery. More details of that arrest were not immediately available yesterday, and Massak said he could not comment.
Gulla is a 2008 graduate of North Middlesex Regional High School in Townsend.
Groton-Dunstable Superintendent of Schools Alan Genovese said councilors will be available for students and staff this morning.
“Allison had really solid grades and was really respected by her peers and staff,” he said. “She was very involved with the yearbook. She was a really good kid. On behalf of the district, my sympathy and condolences go out to her family and friends. We’ll do what we can to provide support.
“It truly is a tragedy,” he added.
Fitchburg State College released a statement offering “deepest condolences,” and said staff members had already met with Myrick’s friends and roommates. Staff will be available to other students in the coming days.
“This is truly a sad day for the family, the college and for the many friends she has on campus,” college President Robert Antonucci said. “Words cannot adequately express the feelings we all have when the life of such a young student is taken away.”
The killing was the first in Shirley since July 8, 2001. Samuel Baker of Shirley is serving 10 years in prison after being convicted of manslaughter for causing the death of his longtime girlfriend, Karen Costos, in another case that involved an abusive relationship.
Costos died of a heart attack as she lay unconscious on the floor of Baker’s father’s home at 60-6 Great Road in Shirley after Baker beat her with a broom handle.
The rural town is home to the maximum-security Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center but has been hit by budget problems in recent years, in part because the state stopped payments previously made to the town for hosting the prison.
Shirley has only nine full-time police officers, and Massak, the acting chief, is a former lieutenant who commands the department since selectmen have said they cannot afford to hire a permanent chief. Even as he serves as acting chief, Massak patrols the town five nights a week.
Don Parker, 60, who has lived in the town for more than 30 years, said, “You don’t hear about things like that happening around here,” a sentiment of disbelief and shock shared by several others.
Rich Dill, 54, of Shirley called the event “hard to imagine.”
Amy Williams, 44, of 3 Morin Road called her neighbors “good people” and described the dead-end street as “a nice, quiet neighborhood.”
Myrick’s family said they hope the incident will “bring to light the ongoing struggle with abusive relationships.”
“This horrible act of violence illustrates how volatile an abusive relationship can be, and how strong is the abuser’s control over his victim,” the family said. “We tried so hard to get through to Allison, but we couldn’t save her.
“If it could happen to her, it could happen to anyone.”

Update on Shirley Incident

Just got this from the DA’s office. I’m not at work yet so I’m just going to paste it and leave it as is for now. Will be chasing tonight.
SHIRLEY- Authorities are conducting an investigation into a stabbing, shooting incident that occurred last night in Shirley, Middlesex District Attorney Gerry Leone and Shirley Police Chief Gregory Massek informed the public today.
According to authorities, at approximately 8:00 p.m. last evening, Shirley Police and State Police assigned to the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office responded to reports of a stabbing at 4 Morin Street in Shirley. Upon arrival, authorities located a male and a female evidencing obvious stab wounds. The male was also evidencing an apparent gun shot wound.
The female victim, Alison Myrick, 19, of Groton was pronounced dead at the scene. The male, identified as Robert Gulla, 19, of Shirley, was med-flighted to UMass Medical Center where he remains in critical condition. Authorities do not believe this incident was random and the investigation into the circumstances of the incident is being investigated.
The investigation remains ongoing by State Police assigned to the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office and Shirley Police.
UPDATE: The DA’s office won’t comment beyond the press release, except to say that they do not believe a suspect is at large.
It looks like Allison might spell her name the way I just did, and that she was a former honor student at Groton/Dunstable who was attending Fitchburg State.
Gulla was arrested December 10 for vandalism and three counts A and B, with a listed address as 4 Morin Street, which is now the crime scene.

Something Is Up In Shirley

I hung out at a crime scene in Shirley for two or three hours tonight but we still haven’t got any kind of confirmation what happened there.
Police were at 4 Morin Street, just off Leominster Street about a block from the fire station, for most of the night. There were four marked cruisers, and unmarked cruiser, and three cars from the District Attorney’s Office there when I arrived.
We initially got close enough to see some cops inside a small, tan ranch-style house with a dark-colored minivan under a carport, but after we’d been there a few minutes police asked us to head to the bottom of the street. They setup crime scene tape at the bottom of the street.
Morin Street is a small dead-end not far from the main drag in town.
I went to the scene because I got alerted by a correspondent of scanner broadcasts indicated someone had been stabbed to death and another person had been MedFlighted to an undisclosed hospital.
All readers should take that with a large grain of salt though, because more than 5 hours after the initial call about 7 p.m., we still have no confirmation or statement from authorities.
A spokesman for District Attorney Gerard Leone could confirm only that investigators were at the scene, and that two people had been “injured.”
One of the plain-clothes guys at the scene said something about someone being “shot in the head,” though, and about 10:30 p.m., a guy who identified himself as being from “state police ballistics” showed up.
He was the second guy in a row who had almost crashed into the crime scene tape at the bottom of the street while arriving at the scene in an SUV.
A neighbor told me a woman and her kids live in the house, and described them as very nice. He said there has never been any trouble there.
Another neighbor said the same thing, though she didn’t know who lived in the house.
“Absolutely not,” she said when I asked her if there had been any trouble there lately. “There’s not even frequent traffic. It’s a very quiet side street.”
There was plenty of traffic last night.
A couple neighbors I talked to heard rumors that it was either a murder/suicide or that two people got stabbed. There are always a lot of rumors about these types of things, though, sometimes close to the truth, sometimes not.
Shirley Police say the acting chief, Lt. Gregory Massek, will be faxing out a statement at some point about what happened, but it’s midnight and the paper has been put to bed, so we’ll have to track it down on Sunday.
Check The Sun website for a breaking news update on the day shift.