ARLINGTON, MASS. (WHDH) - A homeless man is facing criminal charges after authorities say he charged at a police officer while armed with a pellet gun that looked like a rifle in Arlington on Wednesday morning.
Officer Joseph Canniff was conducting weekly homeless outreach efforts in Mugar Woods along with a social worker from the Somerville Homeless Coalition around 9:30 a.m. when a verbal altercation broke out between two homeless residents, according to Arlington police.
Canniff intervened and one of the men involved in the altercation, identified as Michael Perry, 36, left the area on a bicycle, police said.
Perry, who is said to be known to police, allegedly returned shortly after and engaged in a verbal altercation with the man for a second time, demanding that his gun be returned to him.
A homeless woman then gave a gun, believed to be a rifle, to Perry, at which point Perry became aggressive and began to charge toward Canniff while brandishing the gun, police said.
The officer backed away, drew his firearm and ordered Perry to stop and drop the gun, which Perry eventually did, police added.
The gun, which was later identified to be a BB pellet gun, was seized by law enforcement, along with two more pellet guns found in the area, according to police.
“The actions of Officer Canniff, who has an already delicate assignment that includes providing outreach to some of our community’s most vulnerable residents, are consistent with the highest standards of law enforcement and public safety. Faced with a split-second decision and a weapon pointed in his direction, with a suspect coming toward him in the woods, Officer Canniff remained calm and fell back on his training to de-escalate a volatile and potentially dangerous situation,” Chief Julie Flaherty said. “Officer Canniff is to be commended for his actions, which underscore the long-term ongoing efforts of the Town of Arlington and the Arlington Police Department to provide outreach, services and housing to our homeless residents living in the Mugar Woods.”
Perry was taken into custody and transported to a local hospital for an evaluation, where he was held overnight.
He is slated to be arraigned Thursday in Cambridge District Court on charges of assault and battery on a police officer, resisting arrest, and disturbing the peace.
Perry also reportedly had multiple outstanding warrants.
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