UPDATED June 26: For more than 30 minutes Tuesday, June 21, multiple local police departments, including Arlington, launched a frantic search for a woman who witnesses said was abducted from the parking lot of a restaurant in North Billerica.
The search locked down the 400-student Hardy School while police set up a perimeter. The suspect has not been apprehended as of Wednesday afternoon, but has been identified to police, not to the public.
According to police dispatch recordings available on Broadcastify, which offers livestream audio of police and fire recordings, a witness called 911 about 12:06 p.m. to report a woman and man were fighting, and the man dragged the woman into a car and sped off. They were able to provide a description of the suspect and the make and model of the car.
Incident began in Billerica
The State Police, including helicopter and canine support teams, followed.
“Based on the information provided by the witness, it did appear that this woman was being held against her will,” Billerica Police Chief Roy Frost told The Lowell Sun. “We were concerned about the woman’s well-being, so we put out a BOLO [be on the lookout] alert to our officers.”
The key detail provided to police was the make, model and license plate of the car, a June 26 Lowell Sun update reported. Within minutes, Billerica Police units were on alert, driving the area’s main and back roads looking for the vehicle.
Area units did not locate the vehicle, but the BOLO was broadcast to Bedford and State Police departments. At 12:32 p.m. — within less than 30 minutes of the initial call, and 16 miles south — a trooper driving along Route 2 near the Alewife MBTA station spotted the car. As multiple state and local units responded to the trooper’s location, the suspect fled the vehicle on foot.
The victim, though distraught, was unharmed. But the suspect was at large in Arlington, a town that shares borders with Somerville, Belmont, Cambridge and Lexington. The area into which he fled is known as the Mugar Woods, an 18-acre wooded wetland.
The suspect fled the vehicle on foot and was pursued by a canine team from Arlington Police, along with undercover officers and uniformed divisions from the Cambridge, Somerville and Arlington police departments.
Suspect near Hardy
The woods are also just blocks from Arlington’s Hardy Elementary, where 400-plus students in kindergarten through grade five were getting ready for a 1 p.m. early release. Many classrooms were already outside on the playground taking advantage of the 78-degree afternoon.
Canine units were on the ground, helicopters were in the air and the police were setting up a perimeter, but with barely 20 minutes until the dismissal bell, both state and local police put the school on lockdown. It was a decisive moment in a complex, fast-evolving and potentially dangerous situation.
“We were aware the suspect had fled on foot and that he was in the vicinity of Hardy School,” Police Chief Juliann Flaherty wrote in an email to the Sun. “Out of an abundance of caution, a decision was made to move the students inside and shelter in place until we received more information regarding the subject’s location.”
It’s understandable that parents’ posts to social media focused on the fear and anxiety that a lockdown had on their children and their families.
But in a heartbeat, a suspect fleeing from police turned a normal day into a terrifying moment. When potential acts of violence are too close for comfort, the people in charge of keeping our children safe have to act — quickly.
“I was grateful to Chief Flaherty and our School Resource Officer Bryan White, for their quick response to this situation,” schools' Superintendent Elizabeth Homan wrote in an email to the Sun. “Our primary concern is always student safety, and the coordinated response of town officials is immensely helpful in ensuring we achieve that goal.”
After interviewing the victim, police determined the victim and the abuser were known to each other, and that this was a case of domestic violence.
“Domestic violence cases are about power and control,” Frost tolkd the Sun. “This case is an example of that. And domestic violence syndrome creates a different dynamic in every single situation. We are very attuned to these threats and immediately put a school into some sort of lockdown if that is appropriate. That’s the way we train now.”
That training paid off last Tuesday. Frost said the victim is cooperating with the police, and charges have been filed against the suspect, whi is expected to be named later.
“We’re not publishing the name of the suspect right now because we have concerns with the safety of the victim,” Frost told the Sun. “It’s an ongoing investigation, but we’ll be taking steps to make sure the victim has every resource available to her to be safe.”
At the end of the day, everybody was safe — the victim, the public, the school kids and the police. A good outcome to a case of textbook policing.
This news summary was published Wednesday, June 22, 2022. The source is The Lowell Sun, and the reporter is Melanie Gilbert, who also writes for YourArlington. The report vwas updated June 26.
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