Downtown Lowell – Friday night into Saturday

The police presence in downtown Lowell on Friday night was pretty astounding, but it certainly did not appear to be something the city could afford to continue. I saw well over a dozen cruisers from state police, Lowell, and UMass-Lowell, and many more officers on foot or working bar details.

The large number of officers were there because of Winterfest, and in response to Thursday night’s brawl.

Photographer Tory Germann and I were assigned to work Friday night into Saturday morning about 2:30 a.m. My story on what we saw will run in Monday’s paper, and a slideshow of photos Tory got will appear on lowellsun.com.

Photo above is by Tory Germann.

In the meantime, here are a few videos I shot while we were out and about. I’ve included a small story/description with each.

1. Trainview Arrest

A man is arrested outside the Trainview Pub, on Gorham Street, after he refused to leave the area while police investigated an assault. Officers were called to the pub, near the Spaghettiville Bridge, at 12:30 a.m., drawing multiple units from downtown Lowell.

Police said they had to force their way inside after patrons tried to prevent them from entering. Once inside, officers found a man bleeding so profusely they initially thought he was stabbed.

At the hospital, it was determined he was only bleeding from facial injuries suffered in a beating.

Aside from the disorderly conduct arrest, no other arrests were made because the victim could not tell police who attacked him, or why he was attacked.

Capt. James McPadden said the group that was at the Trainview was originally scheduled to be in Club44 downtown, before that club was closed Friday morning. I confirmed that information via Facebook. Imagine if this had happened downtown?

2. Are you stupid? 

As Lowell Police Capt. James McPadden and Sgt. Stephen O’Neill sit in the black, unmarked car in the video, and a state police cruiser drivers past them on the left, you suddenly hear McPadden loudly ask some men on the far right of the video “hey, are you stupid?”

I missed what happened, but McPadden would later explain to me that even as he sat there in a police cruiser, as another police cruiser drove by, and even with at least five other police cruisers within sight further up the street, one of the men in the group on the right stopped and leaned up against a wall as if he was about to urinate.

He moved along once McPadden shouted.

3. Smokehouse dispersed.

At 12:30 a.m., I stopped at the Village Smokehouse on Middle Street to talk to co-owner Tim Kelleher, who was already turning people away from his bar. He explained that he was at capacity, and that he wasn’t letting anymore customers in even if the crowd thinned out a bit before close.

At 12:30, a girl tried to show Kelleher her driver’s license. He asked “do you already have a hand stamp?” She said “No, but here’s my license.” Kelleher said “I’m sorry you’ll have to go somewhere else. We’re already full for the night.” (A stamp would have indicated the girl had been carded and previously inside the club). He turned her business away.

This video is from about 1:30 a.m., when the bar was closing and the crowd was exiting. Extra police units were requested with some urgency by officers at the scene, hence the fast pace of the start of the video, as a photographer and I rush from Merrimack Street to Middle Street.

The video starts as officers at the scene report “we’re all set,” and that backup units can slow down.

In fairness to Kelleher, the loud voice that can be heard in the video telling people to “move along,” is the voice of Kelleher, not police. Kelleher is almost always in front of his bar at closing time, helping to keep the peace and helping police move people along.

Kelleher deals with this situation every weekend, except he and his staff usually only have help from one, two, or three police officers.

And the crowds on Friday night may have been smaller than usual. Usually, I can rarely find parking in the Enterprise Bank lot by 12:30 a.m. On this night, there were plenty of spots.

Not every weekend is Winterfest. Not every weekend sees police trying to send a message with increased manpower. Imagine bigger crowds, and one-fourth as many police.

Old enough to steal a car; not old enough to drive.

This is apparently the second-installment of my blog entry from last week that I titled “kids these days.”

Lowell Police went rushing to Fort Hill Avenue tonight about 6:45 p.m., after an anonymous resident spotted five kids breaking into a Honda that was parked along the street. That Honda is pictured on the left below.

The five kids scattered as police arrived, but with not much else going on in the city about a half-dozen cruisers went to the area.

By 7 p.m., four of the kids were in custody. They were all 14- to 15-years-old, and from Lawrence.

Once those four kids were loaded in the prisoner transport wagon, the fifth kid stepped out of his hiding space nearby and turned himself in. He joined the wagon ride to Arcand Drive.

One of the kids, in his haste to get away, even crashed through the lattice gate pictured below.

At the scene, police found a Honda the kids drove to the scene. It hasn’t been reported stolen, but the ignition was popped, so police are in the process of contacting that car’s owner since it appears that it was stolen; hence the title to this entry.

The kids are facing charges of breaking and entering motor vehicle, disturbing the peace, and could face even more serious charges once police confirm the story of the vehicle they drove here from Lawrence.

If you’re looking for a lesson here, it’s that you might want to avoid Fort Hill Avenue if you’re in the business of breaking into cars.

The residents there really do watch out, and this is a darn good example of what happens when Lowellians watch out and work with police. Car breaks remain a major problem in Lowell. Despite a decline in 2010, they were up significantly the prior two years.

This is a pretty textbook way to stop them.

Even More People Steal From the Needy?

First there was this, then there was this, and now today we learn that a couple from Pelham is accused of stealing $900 from the Pelham Good Neighbor Fund.
Merry Christmas everyone.
Pelham Police say Samantha Freeman, 19, and Domenic Gioioso, 21, both of Pelham, turned themselves in at the police station today after investigators obtained warrants for both of their arrests.

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Lt. Brian McCarthy said police got a tip about the two about six weeks ago, after Freeman went to the Good Neighbor Fund and told volunteers there that she had a baby at home, and was pregnant with another child, who’s father, Gioioso’s brother, was serving with the military in Iraq.
The fund gave Freeman $900 worth of money orders and gift cards to help her pay for food, baby supplies and doctor appointments.
The problem?
Police investigated and determined that Freeman isn’t pregnant; she doesn’t have any children, and Gioioso’s brother is not in Iraq. In fact, Gioioso is Freeman’s boyfriend.

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McCarthy said it appears the two thought up the scheme after talking to someone else who had pulled off something similar. That person is now under investigation, and McCarthy told me more arrests could be forthcoming.
Freeman is charged with theft by deception. Gioioso is charged with conspiracy to commit theft by deception.
Needless to say, this couple obviously won’t be paying restitution to the fund before Christmas, so that $900 won’t be going to the many Pelham residents who could actually use it this year.

Now This is What I’m Talking About

I’ve had a busy night so I’m just going to paste my story on this right in here.
Perfect example of what we’re talking about when I report how often police say they need help from residents to really stop crime.
By Joyce Tsai
and Robert Mills
Sun Staff
TEWKSBURY — The call went out late last week — break-ins are on the rise in Tewksbury, with about a half-dozen reported recently, and police need help from the public to stop the thieves working in town.
Yesterday, police got the help they wanted and it landed two men behind bars.
Deputy Chief John Voto said a resident of Rogers Street called police about 9:30 a.m. to report that she saw two men acting suspiciously in front of her neighbor’s home.
The woman said she had seen a newspaper report last week about police asking residents to be on the alert.
Two officers went to 105 Rogers St. They immediately realized the home had been broken into, and contacted the neighbor who had called.
“This neighbor was able to give a great description of the suspects and the vehicle,” complete with the car’s license plate,” Voto said in a written statement.
Police soon spotted the black Honda on East Street, and with help from state police tracked it onto Interstate 93 and Interstate 495 north.
A state police spokesman, Sgt. Sean Murphy, said troopers in unmarked cruisers were involved in tracking the car, until Lawrence police found it parked near 205 Broadway St., and located its occupants inside a jewelry store.
Tewksbury police believe the men were trying to pawn items they had just stolen from the Tewksbury home.

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Jeffrey Beaulieu, 26, of Salem, N.H., and Michael Wightman, 24, of Methuen, were both charged with breaking and entering in the daytime, larceny over $250 and two counts of attempting to commit a crime.
As to whether the two suspects could be linked to earlier break-ins — several of which were also committed in broad daylight over the past week — Voto said police are investigating diligently, but that he can not comment on anything else since those investigations remain ongoing.
This case also still remains under investigation, and more charges could follow, he said.
The tip from a neighbor was a perfect example of the sort of help police from Tewksbury, Lowell, and other towns in the area often request from residents, especially in a poor economy when break ins tend to increase.
In Tewksbury, police contacted the media to spread the request last week. Chief Timothy Sheehan ordered reverse 911 calls made to ask residents to lock their doors, secure their belongings, and keep an eye on their neighbor’s homes in an effort to stop the thieves.
“If you see someone suspicious, whether major or minor, call the police and let us determine if its something that needs to be looked into,” Voto told The Sun last week. “The police and the community need to work together to solve these crimes.”
Police did not identify the woman who called them yesterday, but thanked her for defending her town.
“The Tewksbury Police Department would like to thank and commend this citizen for helping to protect the Town of Tewksbury,” Voto said yesterday.
Anyone with information on a crime or who spots suspicious activity is asked to call Tewksbury police at 978-851-7373. Anonymous tips can be phoned in at 978-851-0175.

Magazine Salesman Busted

Got a release from Nashua Police this afternoon saying they’ve arrested a door to door magazine salesman this week.
I’ve written plenty about these people before, and even a bit earlier this year when someone warned me that they were in the area.
On Tuesday, David Parker, 21, of Duquesne, PA was arrested by Nashua Police and charged with Burglary.

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Police say he worked for a company called Pacific Coast Clearing Services, of 5775 Soundview Drive, Gig Harbor, Washington. Police say that company has has several aliases, which is obviously a hallmark of a legitimate business.
Police were called about 6 p.m., for a report of a burglary at the home of a woman who had spoken to a door to door magazine salesman while in her yard.
When she went back into her home she realized her wallet was missing from her purse.
She gave police a detailed description of the suspect, and Parker was taken into custody a short time later nearby, police said.
Nashua Police say any door to door salesman in New Hampshire requires a permit from the state, and in Nashua it requires a permit from Nashua as well.
Police confirmed Pacific Coast Clearing Services has no permits.
Police encourage anyone who believes door to door salesman are suspicious to call police, and local police departments here in Massachusetts have long done the same.
Permits are also required in Massachusetts.
I’ve been writing about this for over two years now. It’s an easy thing to stop and an easy way to get ripped off. Do me a favor and don’t fall for this or let your friends fall for it.

Crash Involving Elderly Driver

This is very unfortunate, but interestingly it comes just as we’ve been debating the need to give vision and road tests to elderly drivers here in Massachusetts.
Making it even more interesting, is the fact that New Hampshire already requires road tests for driver’s over 75. The debate here in Massachusetts has been looking at 85 as the age where road tests are required.
Thoughts?

Good News

It turns out there is at least a tiny bit of a local flavor to the good news the FBI released yesterday when they announced that violent crime was down 2.5 percent and property crime was down 1.6 percent nationwide in 2008.
The Northeast was the only region of the country where property crimes, such as burglary and theft, were up in 2008. They were up 1.6 percent here.
Lowell saw increases in both categories of crime in 2008, but during the first three months of this year robbery and murder are both down. Burglary is up, but only slightly.
Superintendent Lavallee just forwarded me the numbers this afternoon. They’re limited, but if you want to take a look at the excel spreadsheet just click this link.