Police: Man in Pittsfield standoff threatened to rape woman in home, set her on fire

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PITTSFIELD — A city man who was arrested Thursday, after an hourslong standoff with authorities, had threatened to rape a woman and set her on fire, according to a police report.

Dominic J. Simonetta, 46, was ordered held without bail Friday, pending a dangerousness hearing. He also has been committed for a mental health evaluation and pleaded not guilty to multiple charges stemming from the incident. Simonetta is accused of assaulting a 36-year-old woman and preventing her from leaving his Onota Street home. Police say he threatened to rape her, poured paint thinner on her and threatened to set her on fire.

Pittsfield Police were sent to 80 Onota St. about 10:30 a.m. Thursday, after they received a report from a woman who said she jumped out a second-floor window at the residence to escape Simonetta's home. The woman told police she believed Simonetta was trying to kill her and that he had various weapons in the house.

According to the alleged victim, Simonetta had not been sleeping recently, and had been huffing and drinking paint thinner.

She said that she and Simonetta had gotten into an argument Wednesday night and she left the house for a few hours. She returned about 8 p.m., took a nap, and was awakened by Simonetta washing her feet and calling her by a different name while speaking about a "secret mission" and how she never would see him again.

About 3:40 a.m. Thursday, Simonetta allegedly woke the woman, brought up the argument from earlier, and seemed angry and "out of it." She said she tried to leave about 5:30 a.m., and Simonetta punched her in the face and kept her from leaving, smashed her phone on the ground and threw her shoes in a fire pit.

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According to the woman's statements to police, Simonetta then drew a circle on a bed upstairs and made the woman lay inside that circle and, while he did that, hit her in the wrist with both the flat and sharp edges of a machete.

At that point, she said, Simonetta poured paint thinner on her and said he would rape her and kill her by setting her on fire.

Simonetta refused to come to the door when police arrived, and students and faculty at Conte Community School were asked to shelter in place for the rest of the school day while officers responded to the scene.

The standoff lasted until about 2:30 p.m., after members of the Berkshire County Special Response Team entered the house and took Simonetta into custody without incident.

Simonetta appeared in Central Berkshire District Court on Friday before Judge Jennifer Tyne and entered not guilty pleas to charges of assault on a family or household member, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, kidnapping, witness intimidation, two counts of threatening to commit a crime and one count of vandalizing property.

He is due back in court Oct. 3 for his dangerousness hearing. He remains committed in the meantime.

Bob Dunn can be reached at bdunn@berkshireeagle.com, at @BobDunn413 on Twitter and 413-496-6249.


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