SALEM — Was it a college prank? A crime of opportunity? A desperate cry for help — with his hitting stats?
Whatever the reason, a Salem State student struck out, after police caught him with a softball pitching machine down the street from the O'Keefe Center on Thursday afternoon.
Michael Szarnrej, 19, of Westford pleaded not guilty to one charge of larceny of property over $250 yesterday during his arraignment in Salem District Court.
Szarnrej allegedly went into the O'Keefe Center around 2:30 p.m. and picked up the machine, an Atec Casey-2 model valued at $1,250, according to a campus police report.
As he was walking out, he told an employee he "just wanted to use it." The employee went upstairs to talk to a co-worker and asked if he'd given someone permission to borrow the pitching machine. He hadn't.
Then the two workers looked out the window and saw Szarnrej lugging the 65-pound machine down Canal Street.
They called campus police, who quickly spotted Szarnrej and the machine at the Global gas station. Szarnrej was on his cell phone, apparently looking for a ride.
The machine was returned to campus, and Szarnrej was arrested.
During his arraignment, prosecutor Honor Segal did not ask for bail but did ask Judge Richard Mori to order that Szarnrej "comply with all rules and regulations of Salem State College."
"Including the provision against stealing," the judge specified.
Szarnrej was appointed a lawyer and told to return to court on April 8 for a pretrial conference.