EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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June 15, 2013

SWAT called out for man in pitchfork attack

ANDOVER — An “emotionally disturbed” man who allegedly chased a family member and two caseworkers out of his house with a pitchfork was taken into custody after nearly a two-hour standoff yesterday afternoon, police said.

Thomas Croteau, 54, of 67 Woburn St., remained under hospital evaluation last night and was to be held on $10,000 cash bail once back in police custody. He is expected to be arraigned Monday in Lawrence District Court on three counts of assault with a dangerous weapon, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and assault and battery on a household member, according to Andover police Lt. Edward Guy.

According to reports, Croteau threatened the family member and two caseworkers with a lead pipe, but was disarmed. Then, he picked up a glass bowl and threw it at the family member, hitting him in the head. Soon after, he grabbed a pitchfork and chased them out of the house, according to Guy.

The family member was not seriously injured, Guy said.

Croteau “went inside the house where he lives and, at that point in time, he refused to speak with us or even come out of the house,” according to Guy, who said police had to “take all precautions, so we ended up calling in (the SWAT team).”

Police called NEMLEC (North East Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council) to send a SWAT team to 67 Woburn St. across from South Elementary School at about 3:45 p.m. Police closed down the area around the house and set up a staging spot at the school.

At 5:39 p.m., police scanner radio reports announced the man was taken into custody. Representatives of the SWAT team succeeded in talking Croteau out of the house, ending the standoff peacefully, Guy said.

“He was extricated without incident,” Guy said. “He was taken to a hospital, where he will be further evaluated for his mental health.”

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