, Salem, MA

October 20, 2012

SWAT team storms apartment

Man taken into custody at Beverly senior complex

By Neil H. Dempsey Staff Writer
The Salem News

---- — BEVERLY — SWAT team officers ended a two-hour standoff with a knife-wielding man who had allegedly threatened to kill police when they stormed his apartment at Turtle Woods yesterday afternoon and Tasered him.

Michael Gallagher, 65, of 399 Essex St., Beverly, was subsequently transported to Beverly Hospital and will face charges of assault by means of a dangerous weapon, police officer Dave Costa said in a press release on Friday.

There were no reported injuries.

The incident began when officers responded to the low and moderate-income housing complex for seniors at 11:43 a.m. to check on Gallagher’s well-being, Costa said. Personnel from Elliot Community Human Services had been trying to get him to go to the hospital for unspecified medical treatment, but Gallagher had refused and sent an email earlier in the day stating he would no longer receive visits or phone calls from them.

He also warned that “any attempt by police to enter my apartment will be met with deadly force,” Costa said.

Gallagher refused to open his door for the officers, yelling obscenities at them and making threats “to kill anyone who walked through the door,” Costa said. Officers had maintenance personnel get a key for the door anyway, but when they got a look inside the apartment, Gallagher, 6-foot-4 and 325 pounds, was holding a butcher knife above his head.

“Officers drew their firearms and ordered Gallagher to drop the knife,” said Costa. “Gallagher refused and instead started toward them in a threatening manner, holding the knife in the air.”

Then he slammed the door shut and locked it. Officers tried to talk with him through the door but he eventually refused to speak at all, said Costa.

Police requested assistance from the North Eastern Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council’s SWAT team, which brought officers from as far away as Newton to the scene, along with negotiators who tried to talk with Gallagher in person and over the phone, to no avail.

“SWAT officers were able to place a camera under the door to see that Gallagher was sitting in a chair placed against the door and waited for him to move away so they could safely enter,” said Costa.

The Beverly Fire Department simultaneously put a ladder up to his apartment window.

Costa said that at about 2 p.m., officers saw Gallagher get up from the chair and walk across the apartment. Police then stormed inside.

Gallagher was still holding the knife. He again refused orders to drop it and came at the officers in a threatening manner, Costa said, so they used a Taser on him and took him into custody.