Original article no longer available
Thursday, February 07, 2008
By BEA O’QUINN DEWBERRY and PETER GOONAN
SPRINGFIELD – A police officer stabbed in the chest by a 14-year-old boy who refused to get out of bed and take his anti-depressant medication yesterday was listed in fair condition after undergoing surgery, a police official said last night.
Patrolman Kevin P. Fitzgerald, 44, was stabbed with a 4-inch paring knife and was treated at Baystate Medical Center, where he was admitted, Sgt. John M. Delaney said. The injury was not considered life threatening and Fitzgerald, a 20-year veteran, was listed in stable condition.
The boy had refused to get out of bed for the past two days, and was on the floor, bundled in a blanket and pillows, in his home at 47 Knollwood St., when police arrived.
The boy’s mother told police in a 911 call he was aggressive and later said that he would not take his anti-depressant medication. The boy was described as appearing to be “in a catatonic state,” police said.
The boy remained uncooperative when paramedics arrived shortly before 11 a.m. As paramedics and Patrolman Thomas R. Liebel attempted to get the boy onto a stretcher, the boy struck Fitzgerald with a “punching motion,” forcing the knife into the officer’s chest up to the handle, police said. Liebel, who was also attacked by the boy, disarmed the teenager.
The teenager was described as a special needs student who attends school outside the city. He had a history of violence especially when woken, Delaney said.
The teen was arrested and charged with assault and battery by means of dangerous weapon, two counts of assault by means of a dangerous weapon, and assault and battery on a police officer. He was taken to the juvenile lockup facility on Liberty Street and will be arraigned in Springfield Juvenile Court, Delaney said.
Acting Police Commissioner William J. Fitchet said the incident began when paramedics were summoned to the house because the juvenile refused to get out of bed.
Fitchet said police had been called to the Knollwood Street address because of a similar problem with the boy on Friday. Knollwood Street is off Carew Street near Shriners Hospital.
“We have been there in the past for other domestic issues revolving around this juvenile,” Delaney said. “No call is routine especially with things like this. Tragedy can happen at any time.”
Police said the officer was not wearing a bullet-proof vest. Officers are provided vests, but may wear them at their discretion.
Fitzgerald responded to the call alone, and Liebel was dispatched to the scene after a call for back up. Liebel and paramedics tended to Fitzgerald and took him to the hospital, Delaney said.
Neighbors described the juvenile as troubled with a history of medical issues.
Kay Kazales, who lives at 38 Knollwood St., said she was aware of problems with the youth, but still considered the news shocking.
“These are very good people,” who have had a hard time with their son. “Still, this family is the best. They’ve done their best,” said Kazales, who has lived on the street since 1968.
One neighbor, who did not want to be identified, said she knew the family and was aware that the teenager’s mother had sought help in recent weeks because the son refused to go to school and had become increasingly troubled and violent.
“She’s a single mom of two sons who is doing her absolute best,” said the neighbor. “This is horrifying.”
She added the boy’s grandparents lived on the second floor of the two-family home.
Maria L. Colon, of 34 Knollwood St., said the neighborhood has had few problems and many of the residents looked out for each other.
“It’s really a quiet neighborhood,” Colon said. “I don’t think I’ve seen cruisers on the street in the three years I’ve lived here.”
Mayor Domenic J. Sarno asked the public “to keep the patrolman and his family in their thoughts and prayers.”
Fitchet praised both officers for their outstanding job, calling Fitzgerald dedicated, dependable and a great cop. He commended Liebel on his ability to safely disarm the juvenile and assist Fitzgerald.
Police discussed the stabbing at a press conference that had been set up to announce the formation of an ordinance squad to confront quality of life issues in the city. The planned announcement was postponed because of the stabbing.