, Newburyport, MA

April 9, 2013

Police cordon off Plum Island streets

False report of armed man leads to neighborhood shutdown

By Dave Rogers
Staff Writer

---- — PLUM ISLAND — Police converged upon a 57th Street home yesterday afternoon to remove a man they believed to be armed after a tense standoff.

As a precaution, roads around 57th Street were taped off and Plum Island-bound Newburyport school buses held back until the man, whom police did not immediately identify, was escorted out of the house and placed into an ambulance. He was not armed.

Newburyport City Marshal Thomas Howard said police received a call around 12:45 p.m. from a friend alerting them that the man, who lives at the address, may have been suicidal and possibly armed. That prompted police to surround the small Cape home armed with assault rifles and wearing bulletproof vests. Another officer was seen carrying a tear gas gun and multiple canisters. Police were on the scene for several hours employing different methods to coax him out of the house.

It was only the appearance of his roommate and the subsequent telephone exchange that prompted him to speak with police.

Roads to either side of 57th Street were shut down to the public so that police could cordon off the area. Officials also brought in an ambulance, firefighters and the animal control officer in case a dog was encountered in the home.

Initially not knowing if the man was inside the house or roaming around Plum Island, Howard ordered school buses to be held to keep students safe.

“We’re prepared to keep the neighborhood safe,” Howard said.

School officials sent out emails to parents, alerting them that Plum Island-bound buses were being held while police responded to an “incident.”

Howard said once contact was made with the man, it took about 45 minutes before he voluntarily walked out onto the porch, where he was secured by police. No shots were fired and police officers searching the house were visibly relieved, believing the situation could have turned out far worse.

The man was brought out of the house around 3:10 p.m. and transported to Anna Jaques Hospital for evaluation. Police declined to release his name as the man had not been charged with a crime.

57th Street is a side street that runs perpendicular to Northern Boulevard, running between the boulevard and the beach. It is near the boundary separating the Newbury and Newburyport sections of Plum Island.