By Jill Harmacinski
---- — LAWRENCE — A police dog searching for a stolen pistol buried in a snowbank not only found the Ruger but also managed to fire it with a paw early yesterday morning.
No one was injured after Ivan, a specially trained police dog, pawed through the snowbank, found the weapon and fired a bullet into a home at 82 Crescent St., according to a police report.
Ivan, a canine handled by Lt. John Pickles of the Essex County Sheriff’s Department, was called to Lawrence to help police find the Ruger after it was buried in the snow by a Lawrence man at Crescent and May streets.
Officer Jeff Hart said he was parked on Reservoir Street, near the city barn, when he heard three gunshots coming from the front of the building around 2 a.m. He pulled to the front of the barn and saw a gray Honda Accord with three males inside driving away on Reservoir Street toward Haverhill Street, he said.
When Hart pulled behind the Accord and started to follow it, “the vehicle fled at a high rate of speed.”
At the intersection of Cresent and May, Hart said the driver pulled over. Jose Calderon, 28, jumped out the back of the Accord, ran to the opposite side of the road and started “burying something in the snow.” Then Calderon ran back to the car, Hart wrote.
Once back up units and two canine officers from the Essex County Sheriff’s Department arrived, Calderon and two other men, Alexander Gonzalez, 21, and Jorge Henriquez, 26, were all ordered out of the Accord at gunpoint.
Inside the car, Hart found a 9 mm bullet casing on the back seat where Calderon had been sitting, he wrote. Hart then told the canine officers where Calderon had buried something in the snow.
Pickles’ dog Ivan “pawed at the snow, at which time a shot was discharged from the buried firearm,” Hart wrote.
Police woke up the residents at 82 Crescent and made sure no one was harmed.
“The firearm likely discharged when K-9 Ivan contacted the trigger while trying to narrow his search,” Hart wrote.
Officer Christopher Bussey then cleared the pistol and made sure it safe.
“I did not know if there was something wrong with the firearm at that time and did not want to risk another discharge,” Hart wrote. Bussey “also removed a bullet casing from the chamber that failed to eject when discharged while buried in the snow.”
Calderon, Gonzalez and Henriquez were all read their Miranda rights. Calderon told police he’d made a mistake and had never been arrested before. Later, he said, “I only shot the gun because they asked me to test it out. I made a big mistake. It wasn’t my idea.”
Hart said Calderon also said “he has been working full time since he was 13 years old as a cook and that he should not have tested the gun.”
The serial numbers on the gun were tampered with, resulting in another criminal charge. When Hart was able to get the serial number and run a check on the weapon, he learned the pistol was stolen in Manchester, N.H. on Oct. 2.
Calderon, of 8 Savoy Ave., Lawrence, Henriquez, of 14 Easton St., #2, Lawrence and Gonzalez, of 33 Alder St., Lawrence were all arrested and charged with unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition, receiving a firearm with a defaced serial number and receiving stolen property. Henriquez was additionally charged with speeding.
And Calderon was also charged with discharging a firearm within 150 feet of a highway and carrying a firearm without a license.
All three men are scheduled for arraignment on Monday in Lawrence District Court.