UPDATE: Pittsfield armed robbery suspect allegedly threatened officers with knife during arrest


PITTSFIELD — When police tried to arrest armed robbery suspect Damien Ivas on Monday night, he brandished a knife and told police they were going to have to shoot and kill him.

He was subdued by officers and taken into custody, but not without a struggle.

Ivas was arraigned on Tuesday and ordered held without bail. Details about the arrest were included in court documents obtained by the Eagle.

Ivas, 40, whose address is listed as unknown in Pittsfield, was being sought in connection with six armed robberies in the city between Dec. 23 and Jan. 24. And he was considered armed and dangerous.

After receiving a tip, police responded to a Wellington Avenue apartment about 6:20 p.m. and asked a resident whether Ivas was there, according to the documents. After "lowering her head in defeat," the woman admitted he was inside.

Ivas had hidden himself behind a locked door; the doorknob was removed and a piece of clothing was stuffed in the hole.

When officers kicked open the door, Ivas was holding a silver, serrated folding knife over his head in a threatening manner.

Officers grabbed his arms and ordered him to drop the knife, but he resisted. He eventually was disarmed and taken to the ground, but he continued to resist while officers handcuffed him and took him into custody.

Ivas allegedly told police he wanted to be shot dead during his arrest because he feared he'll be killed in prison "in about a week."

He was transported to Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield, where he was treated for minor injuries received during his arrest, including a cut to his face, pain in his right hand — in which the knife was held — and pain in his right knee. No officers were injured in the scuffle.

Ivas pleaded not guilty in Central Berkshire District Court on Tuesday to six counts of armed and masked robbery, as well as charges of assault with a dangerous weapon and resisting arrest.

Judge Paul Vrabel ordered him held pending a dangerousness hearing, set for Monday.

The six robberies Ivas is charged with are among a rash of 12 such incidents in the city since Nov. 23.

A warrant was issued for Ivas after he was implicated by another suspect, George J. Bliss, of Pittsfield, who was arrested and arraigned last week on the same charges.

Bliss allegedly told police the weapon shown during each of the robberies was a BB pistol and that Ivas was involved in each incident.

It was not clear what role the men allegedly had in each of the robberies.

Bliss' wife, Heidi L. Bliss-Reed, 35, is suspected of being the getaway driver in the Jan. 24 robbery. She has been charged with a lone count of armed and masked robbery.

There is no indication from police whether Ivas or either of the Blisses are also suspects in any of the other open armed robbery cases.

Pittsfield Police issued a statement on Monday night announcing Ivas' arrest.

"We would like to thank all the folks that provided tips or kept on the lookout," the statement read. "This arrest, and the two Bliss arrests, were truly the work of the 'community.' "

Contact Bob Dunn at 413-496-6249.


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