, Salem, MA

February 11, 2010

Arsenal found in man's condo

By Julie Manganis

MANCHESTER — A Manchester man was allegedly stockpiling an arsenal of weapons, including grenades, guns, military gear and dried food in his Bridge Street condo, convinced that "martial law is imminent," police say.

Gregory Girard, 45, is now being held without bail pending a dangerousness hearing tomorrow in Salem District Court, where he pleaded not guilty yesterday to multiple weapons charges.

Police arrested Girard late Tuesday night after a brief standoff outside the 23 Bridge St. condo where he had been living with his wife and their 16-year-old son.

Inside the condo, police found six grenades, 11 rifles, two handguns, two bayonets, two Kevlar vests, two Kevlar helmets, six pairs of handcuffs, two billy clubs, two expandable batons, two flare guns and 17 military containers full of ammunition, which was still being counted, prosecutor Honor Segal told a judge.

They also discovered a shooting range set up in the attic storage area, which was littered with shell casings. Girard said he fires his .22-caliber rifle inside of that loft area and had installed a steel backstop.

Police found numerous other military-style items, including clothing, backpacks, knives, flashlights, batteries and radios through the home, along with large quantities of dried food stored in bags in the loft and the basement, according to a police report.

On Monday, Girard's wife, a psychiatrist, contacted police to express concern about her husband's increasing paranoia and apparent stockpiling of weapons, Segal said.

Kristine Girard told police that while her husband hadn't threatened her, she was afraid to return home after an argument.

She said her husband had recently told her, "Don't talk to people, shoot them instead," and "It's fine to shoot people in the head because traitors deserve it," Segal said, reading from a police report.

The following day, an Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agent contacted Manchester police about a tip they had received about grenades inside the condo. That tip came from a friend of Girard's wife.

Chief Glenn McKiel revoked Gregory Girard's Class A firearms license, and detectives applied for a search warrant.

Officers from the Cape Ann Response Team, the state police tactical operations team and the ATF set up outside the home and evacuated two other units in the condo.

Police made several phone calls to Gregory Girard to ask him to come outside, but the calls went unanswered.

At 11:22 p.m., police went into the condo, where they found Girard and his son.

Police described Girard as cooperative, acknowledging that he did have grenades, but that "they are legal."

Christopher Beares, a lawyer appointed yesterday to represent Girard during his arraignment, said his client is a telecommunications consultant who holds several patents.

According to Girard's own Web site, he also offers expert witness services on intellectual property and technology cases.

Beares questioned whether any of the charges will hold up, suggesting that the grenades were actually just legal smoke bombs and that Girard has a right to use his gun inside his home.

He also questioned the authority of the court to hold Girard without bail, arguing that the charges are not among those for which prosecutors can seek a dangerousness finding.

Girard is facing charges of six counts of possessing an infernal machine (how the law refers to bombs and explosives), four counts of possessing a dangerous weapon and discharging a firearm within 500 feet of a dwelling.

Judge Richard Mori granted Segal's request, ordering Girard held without bail at least until tomorrow's hearing.