Real Life Somerville Police Stories: Richard WHEELER (Defacement Property, False Fire Alarm)

On 01/20/2018, I Officer Christopher Collette was assigned to Somerville marked unit West Six. At approximately 14:59 hours, I responded to a reported vandalism at 2xx Elm St, the XXXX. I’d like to note that this restaurant is currently vacant and under renovation. The current owner is XXXX. Somerville Control advised responding units that an older white male had just smashed a window with his cane. Construction workers were following this suspect. Officers Walter Collette, Joseph Rivera, and Michael Ameral, also responded. Somerville Control updated all units that the suspect was reportedly using his cane as a weapon and he was then at the intersection of Orchard and Day Streets. Multiple units and I arrived on scene shortly thereafter. Upon arrival I observed several parties pointing to an older white male who was holding a black cane. I approached and identified this male as Richard Wheeler.

Richard stated that he was being chased by several males. He stated that he walked by the XXXX and the workers hit him in the head with a ladder. He stated that he was not inside the restaurant at any time. Mr. Wheeler pointed at the males who had followed him from the restaurant. They were later identified as XXXX and XXXX. The two men were contractors that had been working at the XXXX. Neither party could speak English, however they were able to contact their supervisor, XXXX. Officer Walter Collette spoke with XXXX over the phone. Mr. XXXX translated the accounts of both workers. Through the translation, Mr. XXXX and Mr. XXXX stated that they observed Mr. Wheeler strike one of the restaurant’s windows with his cane, breaking it. They followed him until police arrived.

I then spoke with Officer Rivera who was interviewing witnesses at the restaurant. These witnesses described the suspect as an older white male with white hair, wearing a dark blue coat, and light blue jeans. This male was also wearing an ID pouch on the front of his body and carrying a dark colored cane. Mr. Wheeler fit all descriptors given by the witnesses. Officer Rivera advised me that XXXXX witnessed Mr. Wheeler break the window. She stated that Mr. Wheeler was walking behind her and as she came to the restaurant. She heard Mr. Wheeler say, “Warrant!” and he then struck the window with his cane. After the break, he exclaimed, “All systems go.” Witnesses XXXXXX and XXXXXX were across the street from the XXXX when they observed Mr. Wheeler strike and break the window. They believed that Mr. Wheeler then entered the restaurant as they next observed him exiting from within the building. After reviewing all witness statements I placed Mr. Wheeler under arrest for malicious defacement/destruction of property 266/126A. Aside from denying all allegations, Mr. Wheeler was cooperative throughout the entire incident. He was transported to headquarters and booked without incident.

Mr. XXXX, the contractor supervisor then arrived to my location. He advised me that prior to Mr. Wheeler breaking the window, he entered the XXXX and stated that he was the building inspector. Mr. XXXX’s employees then contacted him and Mr. Wheeler spoke with him. Mr. Wheeler began to disrupt the workers and refused to leave. They then pushed him outside and locked the door. Mr. Wheeler continued his attempt to gain entry and then smashed the window. I then asked Mr. XXXX and Officer Rivera to return to the XXXX and interview the employees as to the allegations made by Mr. Wheeler of having been hit with a ladder. Officer Rivera later advised me that through his observations, and the statements of the workers, the ladder in question was far too unwieldy to have been used as a weapon. The workers did state that after Mr. Wheeler damaged the window, he was able to manipulate the locking mechanism and gain entry into the restaurant. Mr. Wheeler then pulled the fire alarm. A charge of causing a false fire alarm 269/13, will be added to the complaint application.

Respectfully submitted,

Patrolman Christopher Collette, B#302

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