LEE -- Six local and state police officers have been honored for defusing a dangerous domestic dispute by safely arresting a Lee man who allegedly shot his stepson and killed the family dog in mid-December.
Lee police Officer Stephanie Burdick and Sgt. Jeffrey Roosa, along with Lenox police Officers Michael Smith and Sean Ward and Sgt. George M. Hamilton III and state police Trooper Gary Ruef each recently received the Massachusetts State Police Medal of Valor.
The contingent of law enforcement successfully and safely apprehended 51-year-old Phap Nguyen in his home -- surrounded by a cache of firearms, including two assault rifles.
"It was a group effort to find a response to the situation," Burdick said.
"No one hesitated," added Roosa. "Everyone moved in as we were all on the same page."
Nguyen is currently free on bail awaiting a pretrial hearing in Berkshire Superior Court scheduled for Sept. 4. In March, he pleaded not guilty in Superior Court to one count each of armed assault to murder and animal cruelty.
The stepson, 30-year-old Jeremy Lee Deane, was treated for a gunshot wound to each leg and his abdomen. Deane was released from the hospital five days after the shooting.
During Tuesday night's meeting of the Lee Board of Selectmen, Burdick and Roosa were praised for putting themselves in harm's way.
"You've made the town very proud," Selectman David Consolati said to the officers.
"It could have been a lot worse given the amount of firepower in the house," Lee police Chief Joseph Buffis said.
On Dec. 13, the Lee Police Department received a 911 call from the family at 175 Beartown Mountain Road in South Lee that Nguyen had allegedly shot Deane following an argument in the kitchen.
As one of the first officers on the scene, Burdick said she and another Lee police officer found Nguyen in the living room with several weapons. Both pulled back, with Burdick calling Roosa, a team leader for the Berkshire County Special Response Team.
"We were afraid he would open fire again," Burdick said.
Lee police were soon joined by the Lenox and state police contingent, who developed a plan to rescue the victim while arresting the shooter. Stockbridge and Pittsfield police also were on the scene to assist.
A first group of the officers moved toward Deane. He had escaped just outside the front door, but couldn't go any further due to his injuries, according to police.
Officers administered first aid to Deane and quickly carried him to an awaiting ambulance, which transported him to Berkshire Medical Center.
Meanwhile, a second group of the officers entered the two-story house and arrested Nguyen who was in a second-floor bedroom -- with a clear view of the approaching officers.
"On approach, we noticed a second-story window open," Roosa said. "We were in a direct line of fire."
Police also found in the bedroom two assault rifles, a 9 mm pistol and two other rifles.
Following his arrest, Nguyen was initially arraigned in Central Berkshire District Court and remanded to Bridgewater State Hospital for a six-week mental health evaluation. During a competency hearing in Southern Berkshire District Court on Jan. 31, Nguyen was found fit to stand trail.
A Berkshire Superior Court grand jury later indicted the Vietnamese native on charges he killed the family dog and tried to kill his stepson.
To reach Dick Lindsay:
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