BEVERLY — In the weeks before a naked Gregory Lyons allegedly went on a violent rampage in downtown Beverly Monday, he had been dealing with significant stress, his attorney told a judge Friday.
Lyons, 32, had just been given a promotion at Siemens, where he had spent most of his career as an engineer after graduating from Worcester Polytechnic Institute with a masters degree. But the pandemic had forced him to start working from home.
His supervisor noticed that Lyons was having trouble focusing and staying on task. He seemed distracted and confused.
A co-worker said that in a phone conversation, Lyons kept "misidentifying" him. Then he said something odd.
"This is the end of the world, and I'm going to ride the big turbine," his lawyer quoted his client as saying.
On Friday, a Salem District Court judge granted a request by the district attorney's office to detain Lyons without bail. But the judge also said she would reconsider her decision if Lyons' attorney, Peter Lloyd, finds a place for him at a secure mental health facility, where he can receive treatment for what has been diagnosed as bipolar disorder and alcohol abuse.
"I am very concerned by the sudden escalation of violence," said Judge Carol Ann Fraser, going on to call it "unpredictable, sudden and rather scary."
"We have a victim here, who at his hand has received fractured ribs and had to go to the hospital, and your client, Mr. Lyons had to receive staples to his head."
Lyons, of 66 Lovett St., Beverly, is charged with unarmed robbery, assault and battery with a deadly weapon, assault and battery, witness intimidation, indecent exposure, disturbing the peace, and three counts of wanton destruction of property under $1,200.
He has no criminal record.
Prosecutor Kelly Waldo described what police say happened Monday at the intersection of Lovett and Washington streets, shortly after 11:30 a.m., when Lyons jumped onto the hood of a car of someone he didn't know.
As he punched the windshield, shards of glass fell onto the frightened woman in the driver's seat, said the prosecutor. When the woman managed to get out and tried to call 911, Waldo said, Lyons jumped on her, and began punching and kicking her, breaking several of her ribs. He broke her phone.
A bystander with a license to carry a gun drew his weapon and ordered Lyons to get away from her. Lyons then began walking toward that bystander, even with a gun pointed at him, Waldo said.
When police arrived, Lyons broke into a sprint, running directly at a police cruiser and launching himself, head first, arms to his side, into the windshield of that vehicle. Doing so caused a head wound that required three staples to close, said the prosecutor, who showed the judge video taken by a bystander.
Waldo said a neighbor had seen Lyons just 15 minutes earlier, fully clothed, on his porch, at 11:17 a.m.
"His behavior escalated so quickly into violence," Waldo said. "This situation easily could have been fatal for multiple people."
Medical records show that Lyons told his doctors he last recalled standing in his kitchen that morning and that he had no memory of what had happened.
His attorney, Lloyd, said his client was in the midst of a manic episode after apparently deteriorating for several weeks.
His girlfriend said Lyons had seemed to be struggling with the news of a friend contracting the illness.
Lyons himself told doctors that he'd been drinking up to 15 beers a night — and on one night, two bottles of wine — just to fall asleep, said the lawyer, though Lyons did not have any drugs or alcohol in his system at the hospital.
Lloyd argued that his client, in the throes of a manic episode, had no intent to harm anyone. The incident was out of character for the Worcester native, who once volunteered to build a water treatment system in Thailand.
At the hospital, Lloyd said Lyons thought he'd hurt someone in a car accident when he saw the police officer guarding his room.
"His family is seeking to get him appropriate care," at McLean or Newton-Wellesley hospitals, said Lloyd, but have been unable to do so due to the uncertainty over his bail status.
Fraser said she will not consider releasing him unless he can be placed in a locked and secure hospital, with some mechanism for alerting probation officers if he tries to leave.
A probable cause hearing was set for June 22.
Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @SNJulieManganis.