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|April 11, 2011
Director of Communications
Essex County Juvenile Probation Officer Helps Remove Gun from
Teen Bent on Retaliation
During a visit to a local school to check on one of his probationers, Essex County Juvenile Court Probation Officer Richard "Rick" St. Onge received information that a teenage boy he has supervised for several years was bragging about having a gun, bullets, and access to more weapons.
Richard St. Onge, who has transferred from Essex Juvenile to Middlesex Superior Court, immediately contacted his supervisors Chief Probation Officer Daniel Passacantilli, Assistant Chief Richard "Dick" Kelley, and the local police.
This collaborative effort led to the removal of a sawed-off rifle from the home of the young man whom St. Onge was concerned would retaliate against a gunman who shot the boy seven weeks ago. The young man, who is not being named because he is a juvenile, was arraigned this week and may face time in a juvenile facility. His mother personally thanked St. Onge for his intervention.
"I told the mother that he may be looking at some time away in a juvenile facility. This happened four days shy of his 17th birthday. She told me thank you and that 'he would be safe now,'" St. Onge related.
"Seven weeks ago, this young man was shot and seriously injured. According to witnesses, he was chased by someone firing from a vehicle and the bullet went through his back. I had serious safety concerns for him. School administrators informed me of their concern about a change in his demeanor. The child seemed down and out. He also told a teacher and other students that he had bullets and a gun in his home," St. Onge said. "I was also very concerned for the child's mother."
Thanks to St. Onge's tip, police found the rifle in his bedroom between two mattresses.
Wendy Salvatore, Director of the Collaborative Alternative School, said St. Onge's work at the school has made a real difference.
"The work Rick does with our students at our school in the Lawrence/Methuen area is invaluable. He meets with the students and is always available to us. He communicates with us the terms of a student's probation which enables us to work more effectively with our students," Salvatore said. "It is good to get a gun off the street."
"This find would not have been made had it not been for this routine visit which Juvenile Probation Officers make to the schools all the time," said Chief Probation Officer Passacantilli.
Assistant Chief Kelley agreed, "Rick received this tip because of the relationship we have formed with the schools. They know that they are able to trust us. Rick, similar to all of my P.O.'s, has a good relationship with the police and the schools. Our P.O.'s are always out in the community and in the schools."
Methuen Police Chief John Solomon commented on the collaboration between police and probation, "We're rather lucky. We have had a partnership with probation for some years. We have done street visits with them. So, when this situation arose, we naturally worked together to address it and this resulted in the removal of a dangerous weapon."
Chief Solomon also lauded Detective Captain Kristopher McCarthy and Detective Thomas McMenamon who worked on the case and ultimately removed the weapons and ammunition from the home.