BY JULIE MANGANIS STAFF WRITER
The Salem News
---- — SALEM — A teenager who was seen outside a Salem bank with what looked like a real handgun Friday afternoon is being held without bail.
Bjorn Nichols, 19, a former Pope Street resident now described as homeless, was already out on bail in two pending cases — one in which he’s accused of stealing credit cards from the lawyer representing him in the other case — when police confronted him in the May Street Playground shortly before 1 p.m.
A woman had seen Nichols digging in the dirt of a flower planter outside the Salem Five branch on Essex Street near Highland Avenue, and then saw the gun, which turned out to be a realistic-looking BB gun.
Nichols was riding away on a bike when police called out to him, said Lt. Conrad Prosniewski, one of the officers who responded to the scene.
Told that he could not have the BB gun because it violated the city’s ordinance against carrying realistic-looking toy or replica guns, Nichols became irate, insisting that he had the right to carry the gun.
As he was being placed under arrest, Nichols allegedly began swearing at the officers, referring to them with an obscenity that is generally directed toward women, and struggling. He was subdued after Sgt. Peter Gifford used pepper spray.
Police also found three folding knives on the teen, which also violated a city ordinance.
In addition, he’s charged with resisting arrest and disorderly conduct.
Nichols was awaiting trial in two cases, one in which he allegedly provided medicated cough syrup to a classmate at North Shore Technical High School in Middleton and the other in which he’s charged with stealing and using credit cards belonging to the court-appointed lawyer representing him in the cough syrup case.
Because of that, Prosniewski, the police prosecutor, asked a Salem District Court judge to revoke Nichols’ bail.
Defense lawyer Meghan Taylor argued against that, saying her client was simply outside the bank to use an outside outlet to charge his iPod. He had just purchased the BB gun at Walmart, she told the judge.
As for the earlier cases, Taylor told Judge Sabita Singh that the lawyer whose credit cards were stolen may not want to press charges. That lawyer, Patrick Regan, was also in court yesterday and did not dispute Taylor’s argument.
“He’s a young man trying to find his way,” Taylor said, “and he may need some help from the system.”
But for at least the next 60 days, Nichols will be at Middleton Jail, after Singh revoked his bail in the earlier cases and set an additional $500 cash on the new case.
He’s due back in court on Oct. 26.
Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @SNJulieManganis.