EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

April 9, 2013

Dispute ends in brawl with police

By Bill Kirk

---- — METHUEN — One man was arrested, a police officer was injured and a car badly damaged following a fracas between a landlord and a tenant on Swan Street.

Thomas Messina, 55, who owns 159 Swan St., was charged with malicious destruction of property over $250, assault and battery, making threats to kill someone, intimidation of a witness and resisting arrest following the 1:50 a.m. incident Saturday.

Messina was arraigned yesterday in Lawrence District Court. Judge Mark Sullivan set his bail at $3,000 after Assistant District Attorney Lindsay Nasson requested $5,000 bail.

According to court documents, police were called to the house on a report of a man fighting with his landlord.

The tenant told police he was in his basement apartment with a female friend when Messina banged on the windows several times and ran off. At some point, he said, Messina got into his truck and used it to smash into his Geo Prizm and push it 60 feet across the driveway.

Police found fresh skid marks from the front of the landlord’s truck to the caller’s car. The driver’s side door of the Prizm was caved in and the front directional light was hanging out. There was also some damage to the front of Messina’s truck.

Police knocked on the front and back doors of the house but got no answer, although police said they could see Messina sitting inside his house, at his computer. The lights inside the house were then switched off.

Police, who were still outside, said the man then opened a second-floor window and began screaming obscenities at them and telling them to leave his property. Police said in the report that the man’s “eyes were heavily glazed over and bulging from his head as he was screaming. He rambled on repeatedly that, ‘I’m a taxpayer. Who do you think pays (your) salaries. Here you are protecting .... drug dealers like him.’”

Police asked him to come downstairs, but he refused. With help from the Fire Department, police pried open the back door and gained entry to the house. They went upstairs, where Messina continued yelling. He attempted to barricade himself in a room by pushing a dresser against his bedroom door, but police were able to kick in the door anyway.

Once inside, they told him he was under arrest, but he became combative as police aimed a Taser at him. At some point, he raised his arms and lowered them, striking Sgt. Steve Debs in the head or pushing Debs into the dresser. They then wrestled Messina to the ground and handcuffed him as he continued to refuse to cooperate, police said.

Sgt. Debs appeared disoriented after being struck and Methuen Fire took him to Holy Family Hospital. He was released for treatment of minor injuries and is scheduled to be back to work today or later this week, according to Capt. Thomas Fram.

Messina’s attorney said in court yesterday that his client has owned his house for years and was worried about drug dealing going on in his property.