PITTSFIELD — The suspect in a series of armed robberies in the city has been charged with calling in a bomb threat on Jan. 7 — moments before he allegedly robbed the Dawes Avenue Variety store.

Damian Ivas, 40, already is facing eight charges in connection with the half-dozen incidents committed in Pittsfield between Dec. 23 and Jan. 24, including the Dawes Avenue robbery.

Details of the alleged threats were not aired in court Tuesday, but Assistant Berkshire District Attorney Joseph Yorlano said the new charges were related to Ivas' open case.

About 2 p.m. on Jan. 7, police received a call that contained threats against 15 different targets in five different towns including schools, government facilities and, "other critical infrastructure locations."

The caller also left a specific time deadline by which they'd call back. Once that deadline had passed without incident, the threat was deemed "less-than-credible."

At 2:06 p.m., police received a report of the Dawes Avenue armed robbery.

The threat prompted the evacuation of Lenox Memorial Middle and High School. Wahconah Regional High and Craneville Elementary schools in Dalton and Lanesborough Elementary School were also affected by the threat, though none of those schools were evacuated as a result.


The next day, Pittsfield Police released information that a 911 call was made from a pay phone outside of the Walmart on Hubbard Avenue shortly before 2 p.m.

Ivas was arrested on February 1 after being implicated by another suspect in all six robberies, George J. Bliss, also of Pittsfield.

Ivas is currently being held on $50,000 bail on six counts of armed and masked robbery and one count each of assault with a dangerous weapon and resisting arrest. The assault charge was for allegedly brandishing a knife at officers during his arrest.

Ivas pleaded not guilty in Berkshire Superior Court on Tuesday to one count of threatened use of explosives, chemical or biological agents and two counts of threatened use of explosives, chemical or biological agents causing evacuation or disruption.

Judge Daniel Ford did not set bail on Ivas' new charges, due to his being held on bail on his other charges and he is due back in court on May 10 for a pretrial hearing.

Contact Bob Dunn at 413-496-6249.