He Was Almost Fast Enough

It sounds like Luis Torres, 28, of 382 Bridge St., Unit 9, is a heck of a fast runner, but he wasn’t quite fast enough tonight.
Police tell me Officer Michael Kandrotas was on patrol somewhere near Central Plaza tonight about 8:53 p.m., when he recognized Torres from roll call, where officers were told he was wanted on a warrant.
Police say Torres had a friend watch the child he was pushing in a stroller, and bolted on foot with Kandrotas in chase.


The chase went up Charles Street, somewhere near Central. Police lost sight of Torres, but realized they probably had Torres boxed in between Central and Lawrence streets.
They setup a perimeter, and started searching yards in the area for about 10 minutes, before someone announced they had Torres in a yard off North Street.
Torres was found hiding in a barrel. The search was over.


Torres seemed nice enough once he was in custody. I heard him tell officers he had done a few events in track back in school.
Police confirmed the child that Torres left with a friend was safe and at his mother’s house, and hauled Torres into the station.
He is being held on a default warrant from a case in which he’s charged with receiving stolen property over $250. He was additionally charged with resisting arrest, disorderly conduct, and trespassing.


Rest in Peace Officer Panek

It was 10, or maybe 11 a.m., on Sunday, August 3, 2008, and I was at Wal-Mart when my cell phone rang.
It was Deputy Superintendent Arthur Ryan calling me. He was acting as chief that weekend since Superintendent Lavallee was out of town.
Deputy Ryan sounded excited. He was calling to tell me about an incident that had gone down overnight at Santoro’s, on Gorham Street. An officer had made an arrest and did some things that really impressed the deputy.
At the store, I told Deputy Ryan I’d call him back once I could take some notes.
Later that day, I called the deputy and found out Officer Charles Panek was working a detail at Santoros, about 2:48 a.m., when a fight started outside.


Below is what I ended up writing that day.
Officer Charles Panek was working inside when he was told there was trouble out front.
As he stepped into a large group of people, Ryan said, Panek heard one man had flashed a gun. He approached that man, later identified as Jonathan Mercer, 20, of 81 Shaw St., second floor.
Mercer began to walk away, and drew the gun as he did so, prompting Panek to draw his own gun and demand Mercer stop, according to Ryan.
The men struggled and Mercer dropped a 9mm handgun, which hit the ground and fired, according to Ryan. No one was struck.
Panek was surrounded by about 75 people who Ryan said turned violent just as more officers arrived.
The crowd even attacked officers with pepper spray, Ryan said.
“It was an extremely dangerous situation that could have ended very badly,” Ryan said.
One officer was treated and released from Saints Medical Center for an injury suffered in the scuffle. Ryan did not identify the officer.
Panek joined the force about two years ago but spent one of those years deployed overseas with the military.
“Officer Panek acted heroically in this situation,” Ryan said. “His actions likely prevented a much more serious incident.”

I mention this because it really struck me today. That was the one and only time Deputy Ryan has ever called me like that, and I think that speaks volumes.
He sounded proud, and he sounded impressed, and he really wanted people to know about this guy who was working for him.
Charles Panek was pronounced dead last night at 11:41 p.m. He drowned after jumping from a boat for a swim in the Merrimack River in Tyngsboro. Dozens of officers had searched for him since earlier in the day when he failed to surface.
I got a message informing of this as soon as I woke up this morning, and that call from Deputy Ryan was the first thing that I thought of. I told a friend of mine about it as I stood on her porch having a cigarette.
In January of 2009, when Panek got the department’s second-highest award, the Medal of Valor, for his actions that day, Deputy Ryan said “The thought that he might be shot did not deter him from duty.”
Just a few months later, on Dec. 18, 2008, Panek would go through a similar incident outside of Santoro’s.
He was attacked by a 30-year-old man while breaking up another fight, and took a hell of a beating in the process. At one point Panek was even picked up and thrown into a light pole by the man he was trying to arrest.
With a back injury, cuts and scrapes, Panek got up and chased that guy down.
He didn’t even get an award for that one.
Most people would probably recognize Panek from the details and patrol shifts he has worked in downtown Lowell. Others would recognize his sleeve of tattoos.


A co-worker of mine once asked me “who’s that cop with all the tattoos” after Panek worked a city council meeting. I explained to her that he was a veteran of both the Marine Corps and National Guard, who had just gotten back from Iraq.
He’s grinning above in the upper left, in a red shirt, along with all the other Marines who serve with Lowell Police. This was from the Corps’ birthday last year.
A co-worker of mine, John Collins, spoke to Panek’s family today. They said he was soon going back to war, in Afghanistan this time. He had volunteered, his family said.
I guess Panek thought his work wasn’t done. As a resident of Lowell and as someone who has seen him in action, I sure as hell wish he was right.
Rest in peace Officer Panek.

Massive Search, Death, on Merrimack River

It appears a massive search for someone who apparently fell out of a boat on the Merrimack River near Riverfront Park, at 76 Frost Road, Tyngsboro came to a tragic conclusion just before midnight.
Police and firefighters were called to the area at 8:43 p.m., for a report that someone had fallen out of a boat, according to police radio broadcasts.
Police did not immediately release any information last night as they were busy coordinating the massive search, which included a state police helicopter and dive teams from Nashua, the Lowell Fire Department, and the Lowell Police Department.


I couldn’t get close to the scene, since there were so many people taking part in the search even police and firefighters were crunched for space in Riverfront Park, on the site of the former Tyngsboro Campground.
Police radio broadcasts indicate someone was found and pronounced dead by paramedics at 11:41 p.m. No information has been released on who the victim is, or how old.
“We have a boat-related death here,” said a police commander at the scene via radio.
I did catch one broadcast that indicated the parents of the missing person were in New Hampshire and on their way to the scene about 10:30 p.m.


Above is a photo of the boat ramp at the park from a previous story.
I’m not sure if the incident happened at Riverfront Park, or if authorities were just using the boat ramp there, but Riverfront Park can be used only by Tyngsboro residents.
The State Medical Examiner’s Office, detectives attached to District Attorney Gerard Leone’s Office, and Environmental Police were being contacted or were on the way to the scene at midnight.
Police also said in radio broadcasts that a boat at the scene was being taken back to the police station to be processed for evidence. Don’t read too much into that, though, I’m pretty sure its standard procedure when there is a death.
I’m sorry but that’s all the information I’ve got right now. Police should be releasing more sometime overnight or in the morning.

Woman Dead – Man Arrested

The headline to this is in large part all I know, so I’m just going to paste the bit of a story I was able to put together on this incident below, and then post some notes.
By Robert Mills
CHELMSFORD — A female pedestrian is dead and an unidentified man is facing drunken-driving charges following an incident yesterday evening on a short cul-de-sac in a residential part of Chelmsford.
But exactly what happened remains a mystery, as both police and investigators from the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office released little information last night.
Police and firefighters were called to Cranberry Lane, a short cul-de-sac off Park Road in the South Chelmsford section, about 6 p.m., according to Police Chief James Murphy.
“We’re investigating a domestic incident that came in as a medical call on Cranberry Lane shortly after 6 p.m.,” Murphy wrote in an email. “The female victim was pronounced dead shortly after arrival at (Lowell General Hospital).”
An unidentified Fire Department captain had also described the incident as being medical in nature earlier in the night during a conversation with a reporter from The Sun.
Murphy said detectives attached to the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office were notified and taking part in the investigation into what happened, but that he could not provide more information prior to consulting with prosecutors today.
Jessica Pastore, a spokeswoman for District Attorney Gerard Leone, said there was “a motor vehicle incident involving a pedestrian,” when asked via email about the incident.
Pastore said a man was charged with operating under the influence of liquor, but nothing else, and declined to identify that man.
Pastore said there is an “investigation ongoing into the exact circumstances of how (the victim) was hit.”
She said more information, including the names of those involved, could be released early today.
Neither Pastore nor Murphy responded to further questions posed via email and telephone late last night.
A few notes.
I talked to the fire captain mentioned in the story just as crews were returning from the incident this evening, and double-checked with him to make sure it was medical in nature. He did not sound at all evasive or uncertain when he said yes.
Chief Murphy noted this was originally thought to be medical. I’m not sure when that changed.
I should also note that both Jessica Pastore and Chief Murphy are always incredibly helpful and straightforward with me. It was after 11 pm when they didn’t respond to my further questions.
I don’t blame them for that, even though I’m incredibly curious about what happened here.
I mention this because I want it to be clear that I’m not suggesting they were being evasive or less than helpful. It seems to me like investigators still have a lot of unanswered questions themselves.
Both Pastore and the chief said they would provide more information Thursday morning, and I absolutely take them at their word on that. At the same time, I’m sorry I have so few answers here.

Act Your Age

Pardon my language, but this crap is kind of ridiculous.
Hudson Police sent out a release tonight about the arrest of Katie Cronin, 34, of Hudson, who is charged with two counts of criminal threatening in connection with allegations she left two bags of dog poop and a profane note on the front steps of a 13-year-old girl.


Police began investigating on July 13, when a resident of Fox Hollow Drive found the two bags of feces and a note on their front steps. The note, which police said was too profane to detail, was directed at a 13-year-old girl who lives in the Fox Hollow Drive home.
Police say Cronin drove to the home on Fox Hollow Drive with three juvenile females who were not identified, and who have not been charged.
“It appears this was done in retaliation for a prior incident between the 13-year-old resident and one of the juveniles with Cronin,” police said in a press release.
Officers went to Cronin’s home to arrest her on a warrant Monday at 7:49 p.m., and police say she resisted arrest.
Cronin was released on $2,000 personal recognizance bail after she was booked on two counts of criminal threatening and two counts of resisting arrest or detention.

Woman Shot, Blood-Covered Man Arrested

Police were called to 13 Gold Street in the Acre tonight at 9:17 p.m., for a report of a person shot. They arrived to find a 29-year-old resident of the home on the sidewalk out front, suffering from a gunshot wound to her lower back.
The wound was described to me as being very serious, but apparently not life-threatening. She was flown by MedFlight to an undisclosed trauma center.


Shortly after the woman was taken from the scene, detectives began speaking to a shirtless, blood-covered man on the street in front of the home. That man loudly swore at detectives and appeared to be uncooperative.
A short time later he was handcuffed without incident. He shouted to point out he was covered in blood as he was led to a prisoner transport wagon, and claimed he tried to help the woman.


The man arrested at the scene was later identified as Sann Than, 29, of 13 Gold St. He is charged with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon (firearm) causing serious bodily injury, unlawful possession of a firearm, unlawful possession of ammunition, and possession of a firearm with an altered serial number during the commission of a felony.
Police said this morning they found a 9mm handgun with an obliterated serial number near the foundation of the house. Police say they are still investigating his motive, which is unclear.


Three neighbors all agreed they heard only one gunshot, which they all believed was just a firecracker at first.
“I thought it was a firecracker, but then I heard a girl screaming,” said one neighbor who declined to provide her name.
Two neighbors said the residents at 13 Gold had just moved in about two weeks ago. They said those residents appeared to party most nights, but that they had otherwise caused no problems.
I updated this entry with some addition information, and deleted the name of the hospital, which it appears I reported incorrectly last night. I heard someone at the scene say she was going to Lahey, but I should have held off on that or confirmed it.
Based on previous experience, I know that where a victim is going can often change, and that there can be concerns about releasing that information if the victim is in fear of someone. I apologize for the error. Also, no, if you’re curious, no one has complained to me about it. I’m just taking the initiative on this one because I was incorrect.

Andrew Burke in Custody

Police just notified me that Andrew Burke, 21, of Lowell, who was wanted in connection with Friday’s sexual assault on the Riverwalk was taken into custody today about 3 p.m., near Harvard Square in Cambridge.
Burke was arrested without incident, and will be arraigned tomorrow in Lowell District Court.


Coincidentally, I got this news while I was on the Riverwalk, talking to people about how safe they feel walking and running there in the wake of this incident.
That is for a story that will be running later this week looking at safety on the Riverwalk, but I’m going to include a couple pictures I snapped Tuesday night while reporting it, because they probably won’t make the paper.


I’m still working on getting more details of Burke’s arrest, and I’ll update with any more information I get as soon as possible.
Remember its still a good idea to be aware of your surroundings while walking or running, and to be particularly aware in any areas that are overgrown.
I think I can also safely state that police will still have a very visible presence around the Riverwalk this week just to try ensure that people feel safe.