PITTSFIELD -- A Pittsfield man was released on $1,000 bail on Monday after pleading not guilty to charges that he threatened his wife and the family dogs with a handgun.

William Athanasulis, 47, of Pomeroy Avenue, had been drinking all day Saturday when he asked his wife to come with him to a local restaurant, according to Pittsfield police.

When she told him she would rather stay home with their dogs, Athanasulis asked her if she would change her mind if he shot the animals, police said.

Athanasulis then retrieved a pistol from the home's second floor, walked up to his wife and told her she needed to choose between the dogs and going out with him. He put a pistol to his own head and then pointed the gun at his 46-year-old wife.

A struggle for the gun ensued. The woman got the gun away from Athanasulis, but he struck her in the arms "out of frustration," police said.

The defendant then called 911 and allegedly told the dispatcher his wife was trying to kill him.

The woman said she did not know whether her husband pointed the gun at her on purpose and didn't believe the gun was loaded, according to the report.

Neither the woman nor the dogs suffered any physical injuries, police said. She was given an emergency restraining order. The woman said Athanasulis was a "wonderful man" who was struggling with some issues.

Police said Athanasulis denied he threatened his wife with a gun and alleged she had pulled the gun on him after he pushed her during an argument.

Police recovered a 9mm Luger on the home's back deck and a loaded clip and a single bullet inside the home.

Athanasulis, represented by attorney Leonard H. Cohen, pleaded not guilty in Central Berkshire District Court on Tuesday to single counts of assault with a dangerous weapon, domestic assault and battery and illegally carrying a firearm.

He was released on $1,000 bail by Judge Fredric D. Rutberg with the condition he refrain from abusing his wife. The bail amount had been agreed to by the Berkshire District Attorney's Office and Cohen.

Athanasulis is scheduled to be back in court on Nov. 25 for a pretrial hearing.

To reach Andrew Amelinckx:
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