, Salem, MA

August 3, 2013

Judge: 'What were you thinking?'

Teens charged with shooting at cars


---- — DANVERS — One is an Eagle Scout, another a volunteer firefighter.

All three are college-bound.

And that had a Salem District Court judge scratching his head yesterday as the three teenagers stood before him on charges that they fired pellets from a BB gun at four parked vehicles from the window of a Mercedes last month.

“What were you thinking?” Judge Michael Lauranzano asked the three, Erik Dahlen, 18, of 88 Old Essex Road and Eagle Scout Brian Gibson, 18, of 19 Mill St., both in Manchester-by-the-Sea, and volunteer firefighter Sean Desmond, 19, of 6 Evans Way, Essex.

“Clearly nothing good,” Desmond admitted. Gibson said he’d made a “bad choice.”

“That I probably shouldn’t be doing this,” Dahlen, who was at the wheel of the Mercedes, said he was thinking at the time.

The three, and a fourth teenager who, because he is under 17, is being prosecuted in juvenile court, were charged with malicious destruction of property after the July 23 incident, which damaged two vehicles.

A resident of Burley Farm Road called police shortly before 10 p.m. to report that someone had just shot at his car with a BB gun, leaving damage, Danvers police Sgt. David Joyce, the department’s police prosecutor, told the judge.

Police found the Mercedes on Avon Road, where the occupants told police that they had gotten lost on the way to the movies, Joyce said.

Police subsequently found a BB gun under a front seat, Joyce said.

A second victim, a 21-year-old woman who had limited insurance coverage on her car, had to pay $272 to get her shattered window replaced, Joyce said. The teens yesterday agreed to pay restitution to her.

Joyce had urged Lauranzano to impose a continuation without a finding in the case for three months, something that would have led to a dismissal of the charges after that period of time, but which would have required the three to formally admit to the charges.

Their attorneys, meanwhile, asked for a general continuance, a disposition that would require no record of an admission, but which will also lead to the charges being dismissed. Lauranzano agreed to that request. If the three stay out of trouble for six months, the charges will be dropped.

“Each of you has had tremendous advantages in your life that most of the 18- and 19-year-olds I see here on a daily basis do not,” said the judge. But for the work that their parents, two of whom were present yesterday in court, had done to provide those advantages and opportunities, said Lauranzano, he would not have agreed to the general continuances.

Lauranzano also ordered the three to write letters of apology to the victims.

Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, via email at or on Twitter @SNJulieManganis.