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Man held on firearms charges after threat

Reportedly said he was going to hurt teenagers

GREENFIELD — A Greenfield District Court judge ordered a Holland, Mass., man held without bail on firearms charges Wednesday following his arrest Tuesday night in Turners Falls.

Montague police originally arrested James M. MacConnell, 48, of 28 Over the Top Road for protective custody, later charging him with unlawful possession of ammunition, possession of a firearm without a firearms identification card and improper storage of a firearm.

MacConnell allegedly made threats against two local teenagers, telling police he planned to beat one at his Turners Falls school.

Montague Police Sgt. Christopher Williams said MacConnell was not charged with threatening to commit a crime, a misdemeanor offense, because the statements were made to police rather than to the individuals involved or to a third party.

“If he had contacted somebody at the school, or if his actions had gotten back to the school or people at the school that this was going to happen, that’s kind of a different story,” Williams said.

According to his report, patrolman Joshua Hoffman responded to Jake’s Tavern, 66 Avenue A, at approximately 8:10 p.m. for a report of a man causing a disturbance, found MacConnell visibly intoxicated and placed him in protective custody.

MacConnell was unsteady on his feet and unsafe to drive, according to Hoffman, and said his kids live in the area but he did not want them to come and pick him up.

During booking at the station, Hoffman found a single 30/30 caliber rifle round in MacConnell’s shirt pocket and when questioned MacConnell told police he had a corresponding rifle in his truck and did not have a permit, according to the report.

With MacConnell’s permission to search the vehicle, police seized a lever-action Winchester rifle loaded with three rounds, an approximately three-foot wooden club and a six-inch sheath knife, according to the report.

The rifle was unsecured in the back seat of the pickup truck, according to police, and while the truck was locked, the rifle was out of its case and visible to anyone walking by.

Asked why he had the rifle and why he was in Turners Falls, MacConnell told police he believed that two kids from Turners Falls were a bad influence on his daughter.

“I am in town to find these two kids and make them pay,” Hoffman quoted MacConnell as saying, and police also found a hand-written note with two names and a page from the phone book in MacConnell’s possession.

“My son brought me to the school where they go today, and I was going to find this kid tomorrow at school and beat him with a baseball bat,” MacConnell said when asked what he intended to do with the information, according to the report.

“MacConnell seemed very intent on causing harm to the two individuals, as he had traveled all the way from Holland, gone to the lengths of acquiring personal information about them both, took the phone book page that would have displayed a phone number and address and had his son show him their school,” Hoffman wrote. “Of great concern was the fact that he had the knives, the club, the rifle, all of which he could have used if he had in fact gone to the school the following morning.”

Nowhere in the report does MacConnell explicitly threaten to use the gun, for which his license expired in 2000.

Williams said the department had contacted local schools regarding the incident, before they knew the result of the arraignment, distributed MacConnell’s picture and told the schools to call police if he showed up.

Williams said MacConnell did not specify the school. One of the two teenagers MacConnell was looking for has graduated from high school and Williams said he did not wish to discuss where the other attends school. Both teens have been notified.

Greenfield Police are investigating similar threats reported at Ryan and Casey Liquors and the Main Street Bar and Grille, both on Main Street, earlier in the evening.

At 2:30 p.m., a caller reported an irate customer threw a beer at a clerk and left threatening to come back and “shoot the place up,” and at 8:16 p.m. a caller reported that a man at the Main Street Bar and Grille earlier in the evening had stated he was from Holland, Mass., his daughter was missing and that he was going to “Rambo” the town of Greenfield and go to the school.

Greenfield Sgt. Kelson Ting said the man had left before police arrived in both cases and police were unable to identify him.

“We really have nothing at our end right now, except it’s under investigation. We’re going to have to put our heads together with Montague PD and the courts, but we had no idea who he was,” Ting said.

District Court Judge William F. Mazanec III ordered MacConnell held without bail until a detention hearing, scheduled for Friday. The ammunition charge was replaced with carrying a firearm without a license, a different wording citing the same section of the legal code.

You can reach Chris Curtis at::
ccurtis@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, ext. 257

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