Arrest made in Friday night stabbing

The Upper Highlands neighborhood certainly isn’t free of troubles, but the area around Tyler Park is an area where I haven’t seen much violent crime. With that in mind, I’m glad to be reporting that police have already made an arrest in connection with a stabbing in the park that occurred late Friday night.

Police were called to the park about 11:15 p.m., and found a 20-year-old man suffering from what appeared to be potentially life-threatening injuries. That man was flown to an undisclosed Boston trauma center.

Police were working on their investigation late Friday night and couldn’t comment right away, but they almost immediately arrested Matthew Mahan, 19, of 75 Harris St., Lowell, at the scene, and charged him with armed assault with intent to murder. Police say they aren’t seeking any other suspects.

Police have not identified the victim, and tell me they’re waiting for a status update on his condition. Mahan, who was charged with carrying a knife in violation of the city’s dangerous weapon ordinance in June 2010, is being held this weekend. He’ll be arraigned Tuesday in Lowell District Court.

One Year Ago Tonight

This happened,

And I ended up spending my New Years Eve freezing on Grand Street and driving around the city with a scanner in my lap so I could follow the cops with shotguns who were searching for a guy who had just shot eight people.

If I can be perfectly honest with you, I’d rather be doing something warmer than watching a 20-year-old get accused of murder when this morning at 5 a.m. rolls around.

If Jameson Phoun is convicted, he will probably never be a free man again. That’s how New Years Eve changed his life.

How about a night without violence Lowell?

I’ll be working a few hours tonight after deadline, and then I’ll be on call for the rest of the night. Enjoy your night, let me enjoy mine, and don’t drink and drive. I will be publishing your name in Monday’s paper if you’re dumb enough to get an OUI.

Did a bank robber change his mind?

One of my assignments when I got in tonight was to get information on a bank robbery today at the Enteprise Bank branch at 1168 Lakeview Avenue, in Dracut. Turns out this story has a bit of a twist.

Dracut Police first went to work on this case about 12:20 p.m., when they got a call from the Sovereign Bank at 1985 Lakeview Ave., according to Deputy Chief David Chartrand.

The bank had not been robbed, though.

A man had just walked into Sovereign Bank with what appeared to be a note in his hand. He had sunglasses on, a gray scarf over his face, and “a lot of clothing on,” including a red jacket and black pants.

“It looked like excessive clothing for the weather,” Chartrand said.

The man approached a teller, but then abruptly turned and left the bank without conducting any business. The man appeared to make a hand signal to someone outside the bank as he left, and then he got on a blue mountain bike, possibly a Mongoose, and rode down Lakeview Avenue, Chartrand said.

“To go into a bank with your head covered, sunglasses, and not make any kind of transaction is obviously cause for concern,” Chartrand told me.

A manager called Dracut Police to report the suspicious activity. An officer went to the bank to take a report.

About 1:30 p.m., Dracut Police got a hold up alarm for the Enterprise Bank branch about a mile or so down the street.

The bank had been robbed. Guess what the suspect looked like?

At Enterprise, a heavyset, white male, wearing a red jacket, black pants, and white sneakers walked into the branch wearing sunglasses, with a gray scarf over his face. He passed a teller a note demanding cash, and escaped with an undisclosed amount of it.

This time he left his mountain bike behind outside the bank, though.

Chartrand said the man got into a small- to mid-sized white vehicle with New Hampshire plates, that appeared to be driven by a woman.

Police reviewed surveillance footage from Enterprise but are not releasing it since it doesn’t show the man’s face. They’re waiting to get access to the footage from Sovereign, and will release that tomorrow if they believe it’s helpful.

“We have surveillance footage, but his head is completely covered with the scarf. We can’t see any part of him,” Chartrand said. “He wasn’t quite as wrapped up when he was at Sovereign.”

Chartrand said witnesses believe the man’s black pants were Tommy Hilfiger brand. Detectives are hoping someone may recognize the man, or may have spotted him as he rode the mountain bike down Lakeview Avenue between 12:20 and 1:30 p.m.

Anyone with information is asked to call police at 978.957.2123.

Robbery with a hypodermic needle

I haven’t seen one of these in a little bit. Police got called to Tedeschi at 103 Rogers Street tonight at 8:36 p.m., for a reported robbery in which the weapon was a hypodermic needle.

A white male, about 5’7, 150 pounds, covered his face with a black mask and used the needle to get an undisclosed amount of cash from the store before fleeing up the hill toward Nesmith Street on foot. He wore a dark sweater or sweatshirt with a yellow shirt underneath, baggy jeans, and white shoes.

About two minutes after the initial call, Officer Michael Kandrotas was on Church Street. A guy on a bike saw Kandrotas’ cruiser, ditched his bike, which is pictured below, and took off running toward the UMass Lowell Inn and Conference Center.

Kandrotas later reviewed video of the robbery and believed his bike-ditcher was the same guy who robbed the store, according to police radio broadcasts.

Chelmsford Police canine officer Dave Leo helped track that guy all the way to the Massachusetts Mills, but eventually lost the track.

Know anyone who’s been riding this bike around?

Anyone with information is asked to call Lowell police at 978-937-3200 or Crimestoppers at 978-459-TIPS (8477). Information can also be sent to police via Text-a-Tip, by texting TIP411 (847411) with the subject “LPDTIP.”
Tipsters can remain anonymous, but can receive up to $1,000 for information leading to an arrest.

Store robbed in Gallagher Square

Police were called to the Apsara Wireless and Video store at 642 Gorham Street at 6:12 p.m., for a report of an armed robbery.

Police said the suspect held a large kitchen knife against the back of a female employee and escaped with her purse and a bag full of cell phones. The employee was not hurt.

The suspect is described as a skinny, white male, about 5’5, with a large amount of facial hair. He wore a black sweater and jeans. He should have a bag and a large purse in his possession.

The employee told police he took a left after walking out the front door, which would mean he fled outbound on Gorham Street.

Anyone with information is asked to call Lowell police at 978-937-3200 or Crimestoppers at 978-459-TIPS (8477). Information can also be sent to police via Text-a-Tip, by texting TIP411 (847411) with the subject “LPDTIP.”
Tipsters can remain anonymous, but can receive up to $1,000 for information leading to an arrest.

Passed out in traffic with an unbuckled kid in the back.

Sometimes I feel like a blog entry could use a little commentary, just to make it more interesting, or a little funny. I think this one can stand on its own.

It was about 2:15 p.m., on Saturday, when police were called to the Rourke Bridge for a report of a man falling asleep at the wheel. An officer soon found a man in traffic at Wood Street and Princeton Boulevard, which, in past years at least, has been one of the most dangerous intersections in the state.

Police say the driver was asleep at the wheel, in traffic, with his chin resting on his chest as his car sat at a red light in drive. An officer approached, opened the driver’s side door, and reached inside in an attempt to put the car in park, police said.

As the office did that, police say Sean Stanek, 36, of 94 A St., Lowell, woke up, hit the gas, and dragged the officer 20 to 30 feet through traffic before the officer managed to free himself and fall into the street, suffering scrapes and bruises. The officer was okay. I spoke to him about two hours later.

Once the car was stopped, officers got Stanek out, and found a 3 to 4-year-old boy sitting in the back seat, unbuckled, according to police. Police say Stanek smelled of alcohol, had glassy eyes, and had a Dunkin Donuts cup full of liquor in the car, along with a bottle of Canadian Club whiskey.

While officers were arresting Stanek he began to struggle, but was soon subdued and handcuffed, police said. He is charged with operating under the influence of alcohol, child endangerment while under the influence, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon (pavement), assault and battery with a dangerous weapon (car), failure to stop for police, resisting arrest, failure to restrain a child, and operating after suspension.

Stanek got locked up for Christmas. The child in the backseat got taken to Lowell General Hospital for Christmas, while police filed a 51A report with the Department of Children and Families, who later released the child into his mother’s custody.

In case grocery stores weren’t crazy enough today…

…A 33-year-old Billerica man walked into the Market Basket on Wood Street in Lowell and passed a note to an employee at the customer service counter demanding cash.

Cash he got, but he also got stopped on is way out the door by a manager and another employee who realized what was happening. As he was led into an upstairs office, the man tried to jump over a railing and escape, only to be held down until police could arrive about 3:50 p.m.

Herman Wiitala, 33, of 14 Charm Road, Billerica, was being held tonight on a single count of armed robbery. From what I hear detectives from another town are also interested in speaking to him regarding another recent crime. Stay tuned.