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Worcester Telegram & Gazette (MA)

Tuesday, February 29, 2000

Author: Karen Nugent

CLINTON — Besides the handgun a Clinton man allegedly brandished last week in front of his wife and 18-year-old son, there was more — a lot more.
Police say they removed a large cache of weapons — two or three carloads worth — from the Clinton Place condominium of Joseph A. Szmyt, who faces several domestic assault charges.

Police Chief Mark R. Laverdure said Mr. Szmyt is a gun collector. Police confiscated more than 40 weapons from him, Chief Laverdure said.

Mr. Szmyt, 58, of 43 Berlin St., Apt. 7, was arrested Wednesday evening after allegedly assaulting his son with the handgun, as the son tried to protect his mother. Officer Joanne M. Duggan said in her report that the handgun was found loaded with a full clip and one round in the chamber.

Mr. Szmyt is charged with two counts of domestic assault and battery, assault with a dangerous weapon (a handgun), carrying a dangerous weapon (a handgun), and four counts of storing unsecured weapons.

Mr. Szmyt told police he is a school-bus driver for Framingham-based Ryder Student Transportation Services.

Yesterday, Carey Paster, senior regional manager for Ryder, confirmed that Mr. Szmyt is an employee there, but would not say in what capacity or in which community.

“We will be investigating this,” he said.


Clinton District Court documents give the following account of the incident that led to Mr. Szmyt’s arrest:

Mr. Szmyt had been arguing with his wife and son, who also live in the condo. The wife and son left the apartment for several hours so Mr. Szmyt could cool down.  He had been drinking more than usual, his wife told police.

When they returned, he at first refused to let them back in, but eventually gave in. However, another argument soon ensued, and Mr. Szmyt pushed his wife, causing her to fall to the floor and hurt her knee.

Mr. Szmyt then crossed the bedroom to a locked safe, unlocked the safe, and took out the handgun.

The son hopped over the bed and tried to take the gun away from Mr. Szmyt. The two struggled, and the son wrenched the gun away from his father.

Meanwhile, a neighbor had heard the struggle and called police. She called twice, the second time saying that a gun was involved.

After Officer Duggan arrived with Officer George D. Martinez, the wife requested a restraining order against Mr. Szmyt.

The restraining order required that all firearms, ammunition and firearms licenses and identification cards be surrendered.

The night of the arrest, the officers found  “in an unsecured, unlocked state,” according to the police report, a .44-caliber revolver, a .58-caliber Navy arms rifle with a fixed bayonet, a .50-caliber Kentucky rifle, and a .50-caliber Missouri rifle.


A double-edged throw knife was also taken. The wife asked that her husband’s bows, arrows and hunting knives be taken as well.

The rest of the weapons — which were locked up — were confiscated later by police, who called for extra vehicles to haul them away.

The police report said the wife told Officer Martinez that Mr. Szmyt told her he would  “take care of the cops.”

The report also said Mr. Szmyt had been treated for depression in 1994.  Among his personal effects were several medications, including the anti-anxiety drug Paxil, Zocor, nitroglycerin, and blood pressure pills. 

Mr. Szmyt was arraigned Thursday in Leominster District Court and released on $750 cash bail. The following conditions were also imposed on him by Judge Edward J. Reynolds: that there be no abuse of family members nor any liquor consumption, that he be given random urine screenings for drugs and alcohol, that he undergo a psychological examination to determine medication therapy, and that he get inpatient or outpatient treatment as deemed appropriate.