Newbury: Man with home arsenal held without bail — (Newburyport Daily News)

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Newburyport Daily News

By Dan Atkinson

February 20, 2008

Note from Rosie: SSRI Stories is continually amazed at the cache of weapons stockpiled by those taking SSRIs.

NEWBURYPORT ­ A Newbury man was ordered held without bail pending a dangerousness hearing after police were called to his home over the weekend and found more than two dozen guns improperly stored.

David Balkus, 48, of 14 Hanover Drive, was arraigned yesterday in Newburyport District Court on 25 counts of improperly storing firearms, two counts of recklessly endangering a child, one of possession of a dangerous weapon, a double-edged sword, and one of threatening his common-law wife.

Bail was set at $250,000 on the other charges, but Balkus was ordered held without bail on the threatening charge pending a hearing Monday on whether he poses a danger to his family and the community.

“In my opinion … (Balkus) has poor decision-making ability pertaining to his right to bear arms,” wrote Sgt. Patty Fisher in a police report.

The threatening charge came from Balkus’ common-law wife, who said Balkus made threatening comments last week and had made other threats to kill her a year ago.

“He made threats to me in the past about killing me, putting me in the chest freezer and taking my body out in his boat and chumming me into the ocean,” the woman wrote in a statement to police.

The woman gave permission for officers to search their home for firearms on Sunday after Balkus originally called police to the residence at 6:30 p.m. Balkus was distressed, wearing just a shirt and underpants while on his front porch, smoking and tapping ashes into his bare hand. He said the woman was going to leave with the couple’s two children, according to police reports.

After a breath test determined Balkus’ blood alcohol level to be .092 percent, police placed him in protective custody, and the woman told police that he had numerous guns in the house.

While the woman at first said the guns were secure and that she did not want to file for a restraining order, she told police a few hours later that she did not want to be in the house when Balkus returned and that the guns were unsecured. She then gave police permission to search the house and showed them two pistols ­ one fully loaded with a round chambered ­ under a couch cushion, police said.

Police reported they found a .50-caliber rifle in Balkus’ office in the house and numerous other rifles and handguns and 911 rounds of ammunition scattered around the house. A police photo of the house showed three rifles on a couch, partially covered by a lampshade, a baseball glove and a copy of the Holy Scriptures.

Besides the firearms, police also confiscated numerous BB guns and air pistols, a box of 97 knives, two compound hunting bows, a crossbow and a double-edged sword, according to police reports. Police also seized numerous bottles of expired prescription medication, including Oxycodone, Zoloft and Naproxene, and after obtaining Barkus’ permission to open his safe, they also seized $26,405 in cash.

According to police, Balkus said he had so many unsecured guns because there was a coyote problem in the area and “he needs to shoot them quickly.” Balkus had permits for all his guns, but Newbury police Chief Michael Reilly revoked his license on Monday.

Balkus obtained ammunition and gun parts through a post office box in Seabrook, police said. Balkus’ wife told police that he “stays home all day drinking, smoking and building firearms,” according to reports.

Balkus’ court-appointed lawyer argued at the arraignment that Balkus has no record of criminal charges aside from a 1990 conviction for driving while under the influence of alcohol, that he did not have a violent history and that his wife routinely left their children in his care while she was at work. The lawyer also said Balkus cooperated with police and that his guns were usually stored in a locked room, and asked for $5,000 cash bail.

But Judge Allen Swan agreed with the prosecution’s suggestion of $250,000 cash bail. Police had originally held Balkus on $100,000 cash bail, saying he was a potential danger to his family and the community.

 

BOX: Items confiscated from the Balkus home:

  • .50-caliber rifle
  • AR-15 semiautomatic rifle
  • AK-47 semiautomatic rifle
  • 12-gauge pump shotgun
  • 12-gauge automatic shotgun
  • 15 rifles
  • 6 semiautomatic pistols
  • 3 revolvers
  • 911 rounds of ammunition
  • 9 air rifles
  • 3 air pistols
  • Red Ryder BB gun
  • 2 compound hunting bows
  • 1 crossbow
  • $26,405 in cash
  • 1 double-edged sword