False Fire Alarm in Wareham Leads to Violent Encounter

Two Wareham cops and one paramedic injured in melee...
Theodore S. Lopes Jr., 35, of West Wareham is facing ten charges resulting from a violent encounter at the Union Pond Apartments. (WPD booking photo)

On Saturday morning, November 2, at about 7:40 a.m., the Wareham Fire Department and Wareham Emergency Medical Services responded to the Union Pond Apartments for the fire alarm activation. Shortly after their arrival it was found to be a malicious false alarm.

Wareham Fire Department Captain Mickey Bird was advised that the male who pulled the fire alarm was outside and acting strangely, wearing only boxer shorts and a T-shirt. Captain Bird asked the male to sit on the rear bumper of the fire engine to be evaluated by EMS. Suddenly, the male jumped up running toward Cranberry Highway in the complex. The male attempted to enter the passenger side of a van which was parked and running with small children in it. A resident had put his two children, as well as two other neighborhood children, in the van to stay warm while the fire alarm was being investigated. The children’s mothers were by the passenger door and began struggling with the male falling to the ground. The father went out to assist, however the male ran around the back of the van and was able to get into the driver’s seat. Several firefighters and two paramedics managed to wrestle him from the vehicle while the father grabbed the keys.

A violent struggle continued on the ground before the arrival of several Wareham Police officers. The male was handcuffed but continued to thrash around aggressively. Officers Zina Kelsch, Stephen Harrison, Scott Cowan, and Jon Verhaegen responded, along with Juvenile Detective Karl Baptiste, Sergeant Daniel Flaherty and Acting Chief John Walcek. Chief Walcek ordered that the man’s legs be secured with “leg irons” because of his extremely violent behavior. Once the leg irons were placed on him, he still attempted to kick officers when they tried to put him in the cruiser. The struggle continued and a Taser was used by Officer Kelsch in an attempt to stop his assaultive behavior.
Finally, the door of the cruiser was closed and the male was transported to Tobey Hospital.

After an evaluation at the emergency room, the male was taken to Wareham police headquarters where he continued to be violent and combative with Sergeant Herb Noble, the booking officer. Theodore S. Lopes Jr., 35, of West Wareham, is facing multiple charges.

1. Breaking and entering for misdemeanor.
2. Attempted larceny of a motor vehicle.
3. Interfering with a firefighter.
4. Assault and battery on ambulance personnel.
5. Assault and battery on a police officer.
6. Assault and battery on a firefighter.
7. Disorderly conduct.
8. Disturbing the peace.
9. False fire alarm.
10. Resisting arrest.

Wareham Police Detectives continued the investigation and determined Mr. Lopes had entered the apartment of a woman and her child, after they had opened their door because of the fire alarm. Once in the apartment he shut the door and locked it just prior to the arrival of the fire department.

During the struggle, the following emergency personnel received injuries.

  • Officer Kelsch suffered a hand injury.
  • Officer Harrison had a finger bitten.
  • Wareham EMS Paramedic Ryan Miller received a minor hand injury after being punched and elbowed.
  • In addition, Captain Jeffery Dias of the Onset Fire Department was spat upon by Lopes.
  • Officer Kelsch was placed out of work because of her injury. Also, a resident of the complex received minor injuries struggling with Lopes at the van.

Mr. Lopes was transported to the Plymouth County House of Correction, where he was later bailed and is expected to appear in Wareham District Court on Monday.

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