One man taken into custody after Pittsfield standoff ends peacefully

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PITTSFIELD — A police standoff that resulted in the partial closure of Onota Street and a shelter order at Conte Community School ended peacefully Thursday afternoon. 

Police arrested Dominic Simonetta, 46, inside his home at 80 Onota St. on charges that included kidnapping, and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. A female victim escaped the home through a window earlier in the day, police said.

Officers responded to the scene at 10:31 a.m., after receiving a 911 call from the alleged victim. They staged for a standoff after Simonetta would not come to the door. 

Students and faculty at Conte Community School were asked to shelter in place for the rest of the school day while officers descended on the neighborhood.

"Dominic, this is the Pittsfield Police Department," Officer Brenna Dorr said repeatedly through a cruiser's loudspeaker while addressing the man inside. "Come out the front door with your hands up."

Several cruisers lined up outside the house, some parked diagonally to block traffic from West Union Street to Columbus Avenue. Officers stood behind trees outside the home, one of them with a less-lethal shotgun pointed at attention.

"We have a victim with us right now," Lt. Thomas Dawley told The Eagle, noting that she was unharmed.

Around noon, Dorr strengthened her message.

"This is the Pittsfield Police Department," she said. "Your house is surrounded. Come out the front door with your hands up."

Members of the Berkshire County Special Response Team, clad in army green, took control of the scene as officers prepared to enter the home against Simonetta's will. 

Before they did, officers gave family members a chance to coax Simonetta from the home.

"Joey, it's your sister. Mom's out here," his sister called from the front yard. "Flick the blinds or something. I don't even know if you can hear me, but I need you to come down here." 

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Though Simonetta's formal first name is Dominic, he goes by Joey among family, Dawley said.

A group of about 10 SRT members huddled at Simonetta's front door. 

"Joey, come on out with your hands up," one officer said. "It's the police department."

The team entered the front door and moments later came out with Simonetta, clad only in boxer shorts. They found him in an upstairs bedroom and arrested him without further incident, Dawley said.

"Our people did a fantastic job," Dawley said. 

Pittsfield Public Schools Superintendent Jason McCandless said the incident, which wound to a close just before 2:30 p.m., did not interrupt school dismissal. 

The heavy police response came because of initial statements made by the alleged victim, according to a news release from the Pittsfield Police Department. The home contained "numerous non-firearm related weapons," the release stated. 

Simonetta will be arraigned Friday in Berkshire District Court on charges of assault on a family or household member, kidnapping, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, witness intimidation, and two counts of threatening to commit a crime. He is being held on $50,000 bail, police said.

Officers are familiar with Simonetta, Dawley said. On Sept. 12, 2012, he pleaded guilty in Berkshire Superior Court to more than a dozen charges, across two separate cases, including aggravated assault and battery and witness intimidation.

He pleaded guilty to charges from three incidents — two in 2010 and one in 2011, all involving the same female victim. Simonetta cut the woman's throat with a knife, threatened to kill her, pushed her down a stairway, beat her unconscious and kept her held against her will for four days, according to police reports. He was ordered to serve 2 1/2 years at the Berkshire County Jail and House of Correction.

Eagle reporter Bob Dunn contributed to this report. 

Amanda Drane can be contacted at adrane@berkshireeagle.com, @amandadrane on Twitter, and 413-496-6296.


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