BEVERLY — A tense, two-day investigation that forced lockdowns at Beverly Hospital and the Beverly Public Library ended with the arrest of a woman who had threatened to kill police officers and firefighters and blow up public buildings.
Ashley Galvin, 20, of 15 Broadway in Beverly, was taken into custody Thursday afternoon after police officers confronted her at the library. Galvin admitted to sending the threatening emails due to “perceived unjust treatment” from police, fire and hospital workers over the last few months, police said.
Galvin was charged with 10 counts of threats to kill, 10 counts of threats of extortion, and one count each of threatening to bomb a police station, fire station and library. She was arraigned yesterday in Salem District Court and ordered held without bail by Judge Robert Brennan until a hearing Friday to determine if she is too dangerous to be released.
The ordeal began Wednesday at about 11 a.m. when several Beverly police officers received threatening emails from a Gmail account, police said.
The emails targeted nine officers, including Police Chief Mark Ray, threatening to kill them and damage police vehicles. About 90 minutes later, another email warned the same officers that Beverly Hospital was “on the list to be blown up.”
The suspect identified him or herself as a “frequent flyer” with the police and hospital and said, “i have so much anger towards you people.” It also said the suspect was close to the police station and would know if any officers came out.
Police immediately notified Beverly Hospital of the threat. Hospital spokesman Gerald Mackillop said the hospital went into a “soft lockdown,” which means all doors except the main entrance were locked.
At 3 p.m., a third email demanded that each officer bring $100 in an envelope with their name on it to the Beverly Public Library on Essex Street between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m. The officers were instructed to leave the envelopes behind the book drop in the parking lot.
If one officer failed to comply, the email said, “a police car gets damaged with one of you in it.”
At about 7:45 p.m., Deputy Fire Chief Peter O’Connor reported receiving an email from the same Gmail account. The email said O’Connor was “on a list to be killed” and that the fire station, police station and hospital would be bombed unless O’Connor brought $500 in an envelope to the library.
Investigators worked through the night trying to get information from Google and other Internet service providers, and patrol officers made regular checks of Beverly Hospital.
At 7:30 Thursday morning, detectives who had been watching the library observed a woman approach the book drop and deposit a book. The woman walked away slowly but kept looking back. Police watched as she walked toward the front of the library, returned to the parking lot, then sat on a bench looking toward the book drop.
Detectives questioned the woman and identified her as Galvin, but did not have enough evidence to take her into custody.
Emails continued to arrive that morning, again threatening to burn a building and saying there were “undercover cops everywhere.” Lt. Gov. Tim Murray was listed as a recipient in one of the emails, so Beverly police alerted State Police, who joined the investigation.
At 12:11 p.m., officers received another email from the suspect that included a picture of the inside of the library. The email said the officers had five minutes to bring the money or the suspect would “do what I promised.”
Several officers rushed to the library. Just as they were securing the building, Galvin walked in.
When she saw all the police officers, she tried to leave. Detective Jeff Tache, recognizing Galvin from the earlier encounter, asked her if she had taken any pictures in the library that day.
Galvin replied “just one” and agreed to show it to Tache. He immediately recognized the picture as the same one that was in the email sent to officers.
Police later learned that Galvin had meant to send the officers a picture of City Hall, not the library, to draw them to that location while she went to the library to start a fire in the bathroom.
Galvin was taken into custody and agreed to speak to investigators. Police said she admitted to sending the emails due to what she perceived as “unjust treatment.” She said her email victims were picked at random.
Police said Galvin had also attempted to email President Obama, Gov. Deval Patrick and the FBI to advise them of the situation.
Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or firstname.lastname@example.org.