Assault on state trooper led to manhunt, arrest of pair accused in shoplifting scheme

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PITTSFIELD — A Florida man is facing charges for allegedly assaulting a state police trooper on Tuesday during a multi-town search for him and another man accused in a shoplifting scheme in North Adams.

Shannon Brown, 33, of Tampa, Fla., and Arnold Chapman were arrested after a pursuit — by car, foot and helicopter — that spanned more than two hours.

The incident began around 2 p.m. when North Adams police notified state police that they were looking for two men who were attempting to return stolen merchandise worth nearly $2,000 to Walmart. The men fled the store in a black Ford 150 pickup truck with Florida plates, leading authorities on a chase that continued through several towns.

Shortly after 2:15 p.m. police lost the pickup in the area of North Street at Hancock Road in Pittsfield. About 20 minutes later, officers found it abandoned in the area of Route 20.

Police later learned that the men were inside Enterprise Rent-a-Car on East Street in Pittsfield, and a trooper immediately responded to the car rental business and observed two men matching the suspects' description inside, state police said in a release.

As the trooper entered the business, both men ran out separate doors. One of them, later identified as Chapman, fled onto East Street.

The second man, later identified as Brown, ran down a hall and began to exit a side door. As the trooper reached Brown, he assaulted her, broke free, and ran in the direction of Cove Street, state police said.

A number of other agencies then joined in the search, including K-9 units from state police and Pittsfield police, and the Berkshire County Sheriff's Office. They established a perimeter and K-9 units began tracking the men.

A Pittsfield police K-9 unit found Brown on Root Place about 4:30 p.m. and arrested him.

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Brown, who initially gave his name to police as "Alstin Guice," and had Florida driver's license in that name, was taken to the state police Cheshire barracks for booking. Troopers located $4,210 in cash on Brown, who stated that he was unemployed and just passing through Massachusetts, according to state police.

Members of the Sheriff's Office found Chapman in shock and in a state of hypothermia. He was transported to Berkshire Medical Center for treatment.

During their investigation, police discovered that Chapman was wanted in Florida on charges of fleeing or attempting to elude law enforcement at a high rate of speed with wanton disregard, being a habitual traffic offender and leaving the scene of a property damage accident.

Chapman was arrested on a charge of being a fugitive from justice as well as one count of larceny over $1,200 by false pretense. Police said more charges may be forthcoming.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Chapman remained hospitalized and will be arraigned on his charges at a date to be determined.

Police say Brown and Chapman were involved in a shoplifting scheme in North Adams and Pittsfield. Troopers also determined that Brown was the subject of a warrant out of Phoenix charging him with fraudulent schemes, artifices and theft. Troopers notified Arizona authorities of Brown's arrest, and they said they intended to extradite him to face charges in their state.

Brown was charged with assault and battery on a police officer, providing a false name to police and being a fugitive from justice. He was arraigned in Central Berkshire District Court on Wednesday and entered not guilty pleas to his charges.

He was ordered held without the right to bail and has a pretrial hearing date of April 2.

Haven Orecchio-Egresitz can be reached at horecchio@berkshireeagle.com, @HavenEagle on Twitter and 413-770-6977.


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