False alarm turns violent at Union Pond

Nov 4, 2019

Wareham first responders were called to a false alarm at the Union Pond Apartments at 7:40 a.m. on Saturday to what turned into a strange and violent incident. Here’s what police say happened:

When crews from the Wareham Fire Department and Emergency Medical Services arrived to the apartment complex, they found there was no fire. The man who pulled the alarm, Theodore S. Lopes, Jr., 35, was outside and acting strangely, wearing only a t-shirt and boxer shorts. 

Fire Captain Mickey Bird asked Lopes to sit on the bumper of the fire truck to be evaluated by EMS, but he jumped up and ran towards Cranberry Highway.

He then tried to get into the passenger-side door of a van that was running with four neighborhood children from multiple families inside, who were sitting in the van to stay warm until they were cleared to go back into their apartments.

The children’s mothers were near the door and began to struggle with Lopes, who fell to the ground. The father of two of the children got out of the driver’s seat to help the mothers. Lopes then ran around the back of the van and got into the driver’s seat. Firefighters and EMS were able to wrestle him from the van while the father grabbed the keys from the ignition. 

According to Sergeant Michael Smith’s report, firefighters had to physically pull Lopes from the driver’s seat “in an attempt to stop Lopes from stealing the van and endanger[ing] the lives of the children.

After a struggle, Lopes was handcuffed but continued to aggressively struggle. Chief Walcek ordered that he be placed in leg irons due to his “extremely violent behavior.” Lopes continued attempting to kick officers, and one tased him at least three times before the door to the cruiser was closed and he was brought to Tobey Hospital.

Lopes refused to speak to the doctor at Tobey Hospital, so after his vitals were taken, he was transported to the police station.

Sergeant Herbert Noble wrote in his report that when Lopes arrived at the police station, he “refused to speak and was grunting and staring at me with a blank angry stare.” Once inside, Lopes did not speak for a period of time, and continued to exhibit “confused and distant behavior,” according to Noble. When Noble spoke to him later, Lopes asked him what charges he was facing, and said that he did not remember going to the hospital, but only recalled pulling the fire alarm, being told by firefighters to sit and wait for police, and attempting to get away. 

Police later discovered in their investigation that Lopes had, after pulling the fire alarm, entered the apartment of a woman and child when they opened the door to go outside. Once in the apartment, he shut the door and locked her and her child out of the apartment before leaving.

Lopes is facing numerous charges: Breaking and entering, attempted larceny of a motor vehicle, interfering with a firefighter, assault and battery on ambulance personnel, assault and battery on a police officer, assault and battery on a firefighter, disorderly conduct, disturbing the peace, false fire alarm, and resisting arrest.

Several first responders were injured: one suffered a hand injury that will put her out of work, one had a finger bitten, one received a minor hand injury after being punched and elbowed, and one was spat on.

Additionally, a resident of the complex received minor injuries during the struggle at the van.

Lopes was transported to the Plymouth County House of Correction before being bailed out. He appeared in Wareham District Court on Monday, where he agreed to pay $2,500 in bail, stay away and have no contact with anyone named in the police report and the Union Pond complex, and submit to drug screenings.

“The firefighters and paramedics did an outstanding job preventing a potential tragedy,” said Walcek. “In addition, we are very appreciative of the residents who put themselves in harm’s way grappling with this male.”