, Salem, MA


May 23, 2014

Our view: A foolish mistake

It’s hard to imagine a more ill-thought idea than the decision of four men — one from Ipswich — to make an amateur movie about a holdup at a convenience store in Salisbury.

The problem: They never bothered to inform police of what they were doing. And their movie “shoot” took place just a few days after police shot and killed a machete-wielding man at Salisbury Beach. The emotions at the Salisbury Police Department are raw right now, and three officers — including the chief — are out on leave, pending the routine and expected investigation into the incident.

A customer of the Gulf Express convenience store in Salisbury Square had just left after purchasing a cold drink. As he got into his car, he saw a man point a handgun at the store clerk, so he called 911.

“The minute I saw the gun, I thought that it was for real,” the man told reporter Dave Rogers.

Salisbury police responded quickly. When they arrived, according to the police report, officers saw one man pointing a gun at the clerk, who was waving his hands in the air. A second suspect wearing a black ski mask was seen inside the store. The officers established a perimeter and called for backup. Police from Newburyport, Amesbury, Newbury, West Newbury, Seabrook and the Massachusetts State Police responded. The suspects were ordered to the ground at gunpoint. The gun turned out to be a replica BB-type pistol.

The filmmakers are lucky their foolish stunt did not result in anyone being killed or injured.

In court this week, Judge Peter Doyle shook his head in disbelief as he heard the details of the incident.

“Might have been a good idea to notify the police first,” Doyle told the four men.

Under a plea agreement with Essex County prosecutor Maura Bailey, the four were ordered to perform eight hours of community service and apologize to Judge Doyle.

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