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Holland man determined to be dangerous

Held without bail

Recorder/David Rainville
James M. MacConnell is led from the Greenfield District courtroom Friday after judge William Mazanec determined he could be a danger if released pending trial. MacConnell faces firearms charges, and has been accused of making threats against two local teens.

Recorder/David Rainville James M. MacConnell is led from the Greenfield District courtroom Friday after judge William Mazanec determined he could be a danger if released pending trial. MacConnell faces firearms charges, and has been accused of making threats against two local teens.

GREENFIELD — A man who allegedly said he intended to beat two local teens and might go “Rambo” on the town will remain held without bail pending trial on firearms charges stemming from his arrest Tuesday night.

James M. MacConnell, 48, of Holland, appeared in Greenfield District Court for a dangerousness hearing Friday morning. Judge William Mazanec decided MacConnell could be a danger if released on bail.

MacConnell was arrested on charges of unlawfully carrying, possessing and storing a firearm, after he allegedly had made threats against two local teenagers he believed gave drugs to his daughter.

Though police said MacConnell told them he planned to beat both teenagers, one at his Turners Falls school, he didn’t threaten the teens directly or through a third party, so he was not charged with the threats.

Defense attorney Byron Caplice argued that MacConnell, who is also accused of making threats in two different bars against the teens, was only acting aggressively and belligerently because he was drunk. Caplice also presented a statement from Holland’s police chief that said MacConnell has no history of violence, and is only verbally aggressive when drinking.

The prosecution argued that MacConnell’s actions were not some drunken impulse.

“Alcohol was not the issue,” said prosecutor Jeffrey Bengston. “He drove from Holland to Greenfield to Turners Falls, equipped with a 30/30 rifle, a bat and a knife. He brought those here, and sought the individuals’ names, descriptions, where they went to school, and ripped out a page in the phone book that had one of their names.”

Caplice said not as much forethought went into his client’s actions as Bengston made it seem.

“This information wasn’t obtained through diligent private investigating,” said Caplice. “It was on Facebook.”

Mazanec said MacConnell couldn’t have been too intoxicated if he successfully drove from the Main Street Bar and Grille in Greenfield to Jake’s Tavern in Turners Falls. A witness who testified to talking to MacConnell at the Greenfield bar didn’t say MacConnell seemed intoxicated, Mazanec pointed out.

Area man Scott Hester told the court he talked to MacConnell in the Main Street Bar and Grille, and MacConnell told him the teens had been giving drugs to his daughter, and he meant to harm them.

“He said he wasn’t going to leave until he went ‘Rambo’ on the town,” said Hester. “To me, it seemed he was serious.”

Hester said he then left the bar and called police, but saw MacConnell leave before they arrived.

Montague patrolman Joshua Hoffman responded to a disturbance at Jake’s Tavern at 8:10 p.m. Tuesday, and reported he found MacConnell visibly intoxicated and took him into protective custody.

While booking MacConnell, Hoffman found a single 30/30 caliber rifle round in the man’s shirt pocket. Questioned, MacConnell told police he had a corresponding rifle in his pickup, and had no firearms permit, according to Hoffman’s report.

There, police found a Winchester 30/30 rifle, as well as a 6-inch sheathed knife and a 3-foot wooden club, according to the report.

“(MacConnell) got his FID when he was 15 or 16, and thought it was good for life,” argued Caplice. He said his client was serving with the Coast Guard when his firearms permit expired in 2000, and didn’t know about it. He also said his client told police he would use a baseball bat to beat the teen, and never said he would use the rifle.

Caplice said MacConnell had the rifle in his truck because he’d gone target shooting in Gill with his son earlier Tuesday. He did not offer an explanation for the club and knife.

Caplice said MacConnell would surrender his other guns, two black-powder rifles, and allow police to search his Holland home to confirm he had no more weapons.

“This has served as a wake-up call to my client,” said Caplice. “He has already been held in jail for two days, and he fears he’ll lose his job and his home.”

Unswayed by the defense’s argument, Mazanec ordered that MacConnell continue to be held without bail while his case is resolved. He is due back in Greenfield District Court Feb. 4.

David Rainville can be reached at:
drainville@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, ext. 279

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