WEST NEWBURY – A local man who fired a bullet into his barn which led to him being surrounded by police last July, pleaded guilty to weapons charges Thursday in Newburyport District Court and was sentenced to 18 months probation. 

Peter Fischer, 60, of Merrill Street, was charged with four counts of possessing a firearm without an FID card, improperly storing a firearm, discharging a firearm within 500 feet of a building and driving a car with a suspended license for operating under the influence.

By the time Fischer appeared in court the motor vehicle offense had been dropped. 

During his time on probation, Fischer must remain drug and alcohol free with random screens, wear a SCRAM alcohol monitoring device for the first six months and continue all mental health treatments. He also was banned from owning any weapons, firearms or explosive devices. Finally, all weapons confiscated upon his arrest will remain with West Newbury police. 

If he violates probation, he could be thrown in jail for 90 days. 

The July 31 incident drew police from several departments and resulted in West Newbury police Chief Jeffrey Gillen issuing letters of commendation to Officers Rich Parenteau and Paul DeCoste last month.

At around 3 p.m. that day, DeCoste went to Fischer’s home after witnesses said he was acting erratically at a local pizza place and then drove into another car at the nearby post office.

Fischer’s girlfriend told officers he had numerous weapons in his barn and recently said disturbing comments such as “someone had to die and talked about killing himself as a way out of his situation,” DeCoste wrote in his report.

Soon after Parenteau arrived at Fischer’s barn to assist, the girlfriend told police she saw Fischer put the barrel of a rifle in his mouth.

“He quickly pulled it out and fired the rifle near his face,” DeCoste wrote.

The two officers called for more assistance, prompting Groveland and Merrimac police and local firefighters to race to the barn. Joined by Groveland police Detective Steven Petrone, the two officers grabbed rifles and entered the barn to talk Fischer out.

They found him lying on his back without any weapons nearby.

“While speaking with Peter I could smell the odor of an alcoholic beverage coming from his breath,” DeCoste wrote in his report. “Peter admitted he has thought of killing himself every day because he had lost everything after being arrested for OUI and losing his driver’s license.”

Once Fischer was placed in an ambulance for a ride to Anna Jaques Hospital, DeCoste and Merrimac police Officer Steven Ringuette searched the barn and the house for guns. The officers found two loaded .22-caliber rifles, a crossbow, a pellet rifle, a 19th century handgun and a Winchester .30-30 caliber rifle loaded with one round.

The incident began at West Newbury Pizza Factory, where Fischer was overheard saying “all kids should burn in hell then they won’t have to worry about the virus,” DeCoste wrote in his report, the virus referring to COVID-19.

Staff writer Dave Rogers can be reached at drogers@newburyportnews.com. Follow him on Twitter @drogers41008.

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