ATTLEBORO - A 44-year-old Milford man who was shot in the arm by an Attleboro police officer after a 4-mile chase at about 12:20 a.m. today has a history of assault and battery arrests with Milford police.
A 44-year-old Milford man was shot in the arm yesterday after steering a stolen Jeep Cherokee toward an officer at the end of a four-mile chase, police said.
John Peters was taken to Rhode Island Hospital in Providence with facial injuries sustained after crashing into a cruiser and a tree and for a gunshot wound to his left bicep, police said. The 44-year-old was treated and released into police custody, a hospital spokesman said.
Peters' 45-year-old passenger, Joyce Sumpter, was not injured, police said. The woman, whose last known address is 24 Mark Drive in Milford, was arraigned yesterday afternoon at Attleboro District Court on a charge of receiving a stolen motor vehicle, according to police and the court clerk. She was released on her own recognizance, the clerk said.
Upon being brought to the Rhode Island hospital, Peters was arrested as a fugitive from justice stemming from the police chase back in Massachusetts, police said. After his medical release, he was taken to Providence District Court, where he waived his rendition rights, police said, allowing Attleboro detectives to pick him up and bring him back.
Peters was jailed pending an arraignment Monday in Attleboro District Court on charges of assault with a dangerous weapon - the Jeep - possession of a stolen motor vehicle, failing to stop for officers, operating recklessly to endanger and driving with a revoked license, police said. Peters, who has a history of assault and battery arrests, had a last known address of 36 S. Main St. in Milford but later told officers he lives at 2 Capital Road in Milford, police said.
The Jeep Cherokee, a black 2007 model, was reported stolen from a lot in Paris, Maine, on March 3, police said. After officers attempted to stop the speeding vehicle on West Street around 12:30 a.m., Peters led them on a four-mile chase, at one point forcing officers in two cruisers to take evasive action as he attempted to ram them, police said.
Officers eventually cornered Peters at a dead-end on East Street, police said, but he spun the Jeep around and drove directly at 37-year-old Officer Gilbert Bechtel, who had gotten out of his cruiser.
With Peters ignoring commands to stop, Bechtel fired several shots in his direction, causing him to swerve and clip the right rear corner of the cruiser before slamming into a tree, police said. Bechtel rushed up and began administering first-aid, police said.
Bechtel, a nine-year veteran with five years' patrol experience, is on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation, a standard policy for officer-involved shootings, said Lt. Scott Killough.
``Our preliminary finding is that he did in fact follow policy and procedure of the police department,'' Killough said.
The last time an Attleboro police officer shot someone was March 11, 2006, when a burglary suspect armed with a broken police baton ran toward an officer, Killough said. The officer, James MacDonald, shot the suspect in the leg, which an investigation showed was a justified action, Killough said.
Both suspects from yesterday's chase were already known to authorities, police said.
Sumpter has received several criminal and civil motor vehicle charges since 1999, though she was never arrested in those cases, said Milford Sgt. David Sacco.
As for Peters, ``He does have a history in Attleboro dating back some years to the early 1980s and early 1990s ... some of the crimes being violent,'' Killough said, declining to comment on the specifics.
In Milford, Peters was arrested twice in 2003 for alleged domestic assault and battery and once on an outstanding warrant, Sacco said.
Peters' former 36 S. Main St. home is now empty, but neighbors remember physical fights between a couple living there and commotion coming from the house, though they could not identify the man involved in the incidents as Peters.
``They were a rambunctious group,'' said Carl Deieso, owner of Car-Leo Floor Coverings on South Main Street.