Police arrest Greenfield man following explosion on Union Street

  • Police responded to 41 Union St. in Greenfield at 2:58 p.m. on Thursday afternoon after a man allegedly threw an incendiary device into the backyard. The man, who has not been named, was arrested by police. STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

  • A member of the Massachusetts State Police Bomb Squad puts on his equipment as the unit conducts another search of 41 Union St. in Greenfield after an explosion was reported Thursday afternoon. STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

  • A member of the Massachusetts State Police Bomb Squad puts on his equipment as the unit conducts another search of 41 Union St. in Greenfield after an explosion was reported Thursday afternoon. STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

  • Greenfield Police Officer Patrick Merrigan stands by as an FBI agent arrives at the scene of a reported explosion on Union Street in Greenfield on Thursday. STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

  • Greenfield acting Police Chief William Gordon, center, speaks to other emergency responders outside of 41 Union St. in Greenfield after callers reported an explosion at the apartment on Thursday. STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

  • Residents of 41 Union St. in Greenfield sit on the sidewalk as police investigate the building after a man allegedly threw an incendiary device out the window, which detonated in the backyard on Thursday. STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

Published: 8/11/2022 5:27:03 PM

GREENFIELD — Police arrested a Greenfield man on Thursday after he allegedly threw an incendiary device out the window of an apartment on Union Street, causing an explosion in the backyard.

This device was determined to be “a little camping propane tank that appeared to be wrapped in a cloth and set on fire” intentionally, according to acting Greenfield Police Chief William Gordon. No injuries were reported.

Police responded to the scene just after 2:58 p.m. following a call from residents at the 41 Union St. building. Upon arrival, police arrested a man, who has not been named, and searched the apartment, finding several other unexploded, suspected incendiary devices, according to Greenfield’s Communications Director Aaron Kupec. In addition to possessing remnants from the initial device, other materials — which Gordon declined to specify — have been taken as evidence by State Police.

“There is no threat with the other devices,” Gordon said after the scene was deemed secure. “One substance that we were concerned about turned out to be inert.”

Residents living at 41 Union St. reported hearing an explosion and not knowing what it was, according to Alison-Kate Morse, who made the initial 911 call. All residents of 41 Union St. were evacuated from the building and neighboring homes were ordered to shelter-in-place while police investigated.

“I heard the explosion and didn’t know exactly what it was,” Morse said. “I looked out the window and a saw big black spot — that’s when I saw the shrapnel.”

Raymond Alicea said he was sitting in his room when he felt the explosion, but he wasn’t sure what to make of it at first.

“I was sitting in my room and it went off in the backyard,” Alicea recounted. “You could feel it in your chest. Everyone thought it was a firework or a gun.”

Mike Ahearn, also a resident of 41 Union St., said he thought it was a “stick of dynamite” going off in the apartment because “you could feel the combustion.”

Patrol officers and detectives with the Greenfield Police Department; the Greenfield Fire Department; the Department of Fire Services District 4 Hazardous Materials Team; the Massachusetts State Police Crime Scene Services Section, Detective Unit and Bomb Team; and the Vermont State Police Bomb Squad responded to assist. According to Kupec, the Vermont squad was called in first because it was the closest unit available while the Massachusetts State Police were in Foxborough covering a New England Patriots game. Officials cleared the scene at around 6 p.m.

The incident remains under investigation. Investigation includes the FBI looking “to ensure that there was no domestic terrorism involved,” according to Gordon, who said officials don’t currently believe there was. Gordon said an investigation could take anywhere from “hours, weeks or months.”

Arraignment of the suspect in custody, Gordon said, will likely occur on Friday. He explained that this is typically the case for suspects who are being held without bail. Information about criminal charges was unavailable at press time.

Gordon said while a situation like this “doesn’t happen too often,” once per year, there is “some kind of suspicious package or detonation of some device” that the Police Department responds to.

Recent budget cuts and related staffing shortages did not impede the effectiveness of the department’s response, Gordon said. It did, however, demand more overtime hours from responding officers, a problem Gordon said has become a repeat issue.

“Every single time this happens,” he said, “it just takes more overtime and causes a bigger problem in the long run.”

Reach Julian Mendoza at 413-772-0261, ext. 261 or jmendoza@recorder.com. Chris Larabee can be reached at clarabee@recorder.com or 413-930-4081.


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