— Bill Cantwell
Two killed in River Street home invasion
Four people were shot July 23 in William Melchionda’s ground-floor apartment at 631 River St.
Melchionda and Anddy Guzman died.
Police said three masked men entered Melchionda’s apartment sometime between 10 and 10:30 p.m. Police reports show the invaders’ motive was their belief illegal drugs and a large amount of cash were being kept in the home.
An Essex County Grand Jury eventually indicted three people on murder and other charges. Juan Carlos Sanchez, 20, of Lawrence and Joshua Cloutman, 20, and Angela Walsh, 21, both of 631 River St., were each indicted on two counts of murder, home invasion, armed robbery and armed burglary. Police said Guzman, 20, of Lawrence was one of the men who invaded the home and was accidently shot by Sanchez during a violent struggle.
Guzman was found outside the home with a fatal gunshot wound. He was wearing a black mask and had an empty pistol holder, police said. Sanchez told a witness interviewed by police that he mistakenly shot Guzman, investigators said. Cloutman and Walsh, who police said lived in an upstairs apartment with their child and Cloutman’s mother, were charged with helping plan the home invasion in exchange for some of the marijuana the home invaders planned to steal from Melchionda’s apartment, police said.
None of the cases have come to trial yet.
— Shawn Regan
Fatal fire sparks feud between mayor, firefighters
A few days after Mayor James Fiorentini cut staffing for the Fire Department’s rescue truck in March to cover a budget shortfall, 84-year-old Phyllis Lamot died in a fire at 477 Washington St.
A few hours after the early-morning blaze, the firefighters union held a press conference in front of the burned-out building to say Lamot may have survived the fire if the mayor had not cut two men from their rescue truck. One firefighter went so far as to say the mayor should be charged with murder for taking the rescue truck out of service over a dispute with the union.