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Colrain man charged with stalking

GREENFIELD — A Colrain man accused of stalking a Charlemont woman has been arraigned on several charges in Franklin Superior Court.

David Wheeler, 62, of 21 Coombs Hill Road, pleaded innocent to 16 counts of accosting or annoying a person of the opposite sex and two charges of criminal harassment.

Police say Wheeler became infatuated with a Shelburne Falls waitress and began to show up at her Charlemont home.

In July, Ava Hunckler, 57, started to notice that someone had been shutting and latching the gate to her long driveway while she and her daughter were out of the house, according to a report by state police Sgt. Gary Gadreault.

After the third time the gate was shut, Hunckler installed automatic cameras near the gate and the front of the house. When she looked at the captured images, she saw an older man shut and latch her gate in the early hours of four August mornings, wrote Gadreault.

On Aug. 9, Hunckler saw the man standing on her porch and called 911. When officers arrived, he fled into the woods, according to the report. The next day, Charlemont police surveilled the property, but the man never showed up.

Three days later, he came back.

That time, Hunckler’s son, James Hunckler, was there. An off-duty police officer, he was armed at the time, according to the report.

James Hunckler told police that the man had begun to approach the porch, when Hunckler identified himself as a law officer and told him to halt, wrote Gadreault.

The man continued to approach and appeared to be concealing something in his hand, James Hunckler told Gadreault.

The off-duty officer told the approaching suspect that if he didn’t stop, he would shoot. The man kept coming, however, and Hunckler aimed his pistol to the side and fired a warning shot, causing the suspect to flee, wrote Gadreault.

Police were able to identify the suspect when his truck’s license plate was caught by one of the cameras and tracked down Wheeler that night.

Wheeler told police he had been secretly going to the house for two months, according to the report. He said he knew Ava Hunckler from the diner where she waits tables.

Gadreault wrote that Wheeler displayed “signs of infatuation,” but would not admit to it.

Wheeler told Gadreault he shut the Hunckler’s gate because he wanted to “send a message” to Hunckler, though he would not say what that message was.

Wheeler’s reluctance to explain his intent led Gadreault to believe Hunckler could be in danger.

Wheeler has been placed on pretrial probation. He must wear a GPS anklet and stay home between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. He must also stay 25 yards from Hunckler and her daughter, as well as the house. He was also ordered to turn in his firearms after police found that there are six long guns registered to Wheeler.

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