Northfield man pleads not guilty to threatening school shooting


Staff Writer

Published: 03-27-2023 6:33 PM

GREENFIELD — A Northfield man faces criminal charges for allegedly threatening gun violence upon Northfield Elementary School and causing a shelter-in-place order there on Friday.

Theodore R. Sweeney Jr., 46, of Millers Falls Road, pleaded not guilty in Greenfield District Court on Monday to two counts of threatening to commit a crime, and single counts of threatening to commit a school shooting and disturbing the peace, according to the Northwestern District Attorney’s Office. School staff members had notified Northfield Police of threats made by Sweeney, who was arrested following an investigation.

Judge William Mazanec III ordered Sweeney to be held without bail pending a dangerous hearing planned for Wednesday morning.

Northfield Police Sgt. Alex Pirozhkov wrote in a police report that he was instructed by Police Chief John Hall at approximately 1 p.m. on Friday to respond to Sweeney’s home because the man had allegedly threatened to kill the school’s principal and “shoot every one of them.” Everyone who was outside the school was ordered to come inside, go to their respective classrooms and lock the doors.

Pirozhkov reports he made his way to Sweeney’s home and requested backup from mutual aid officers. Sweeney reportedly told Pirozhkov he was upset over the handling of a custody arrangement, with the school providing police with documentation outlining custody stipulations for the involved child. Sweeney told Pirozhkov he threatened to sue the school but never said he was going to shoot anyone.

When Pirozhkov contacted Hall for more information, Hall told him the school’s principal said Sweeney threatened to kill him if he released the child to the other family members involved in the custody arrangement. The school’s adjustment counselor, who also spoke with Sweeney on the phone, reported that Sweeney said he would sue the school and come “shoot every one of you.” She reportedly wrote down the specific threat after the phone call ended.

Sweeney reportedly told officers he owned a black powder rifle and muzzleloader, and he agreed to allow officers into his home to look around. Pirozhkov reported seeing a BB gun and a muzzleloader in a soft case. Sweeney is allowed to own the muzzleloader because it is considered a primitive weapon.

Sweeney was arrested and taken to the Northfield Police Station in Town Hall for booking. He was later taken to the Franklin County Jail and House of Correction to await Monday’s arraignment.

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Assistant District Attorney Aidan Lanciani is prosecuting the case. Sweeney was represented in court on Monday by defense attorney Colin O’Brien.

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