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SWAT team aids in capture of armed man, residents' escape

UPDATED, Dec. 24: A police SWAT team Friday, Dec. 23, aided the escape of people trapped in an East Arlington rooming house and captured an armed man who had threatened police with a knife and barricaded himself inside. 

Chief Frederick Ryan said in a department news release that his officers were called to Silk Street, about 6 a.m. to investigate reports of a disturbance and were confronted by a man later identified as Sangpo Sherpa, armed with a knife.

Ryan said the man charged officers with a knife and tried to stab them. An officer retreated and tried to de-escalate the situation, he said.

At least one officer fired at Sherpa with a beanbag shotgun, but Sherpa was wearing a heavy winter jacket that absorbed the impact, he said.

Photographer witnesses events

Sherpa ran into the rooming house where he lives, trapping two other residents there.

Paul Marotta, a neighbor and professional photographer, told The Boston Globe that police surrounded the house and spent an hour engaging Sherpa in a shouted conversation.

At one point, Sherpa walked out of the house and stood on a porch, holding a large knife in his right hand, Marotta told The Globe.

After Sherpa threw a six-pack of cans, possibly beer, at the officers, police did not approach, Marotta told The Globe.

Out of an abundance of caution, Arlington police activated the Northeastern Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council SWAT Team, which brought specially trained municipal police officers from the region into Arlington to assist.

Officers were able to secure the area around the home, and four other residents of the home were quickly evacuated.

SWAT team follows negotiations

Ryan said he activated the regional SWAT team after negotiations failed. SWAT team members, along with Arlington police, were able to isolate Sherpa on the first floor of the building while SWAT officers went to the second floor and rescued the residents trapped there.

The two residents were not hurt, he said.

At that point, Ryan ordered a canister of tear gas to be fired into the home. Sherpa surrendered shortly afterward.

The standoff was the second in about five months town officers used bean bags to de-escalate a tense situation and take a suspect into custody without deadly force.

Sherpa was taken to Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge for a medical evaluation.

Pleads not guilty

Sherpa was arraigned Friday, Dec. 23, in Cambridge District Court, where he pleaded not guilty to charges of assault with a dangerous weapon, threatening to commit a crime, resisting arrest and disturbing the peace, according to the Middlesex district attorney’s office.

Bail was set at $5,000 cash by Judge Michelle Hogan, who also revoked bail on a case pending in Lowell District Court.

Arlington police said they have had previous interactions with Sherpa. Ryan told The Globe officers dealt with Sherpa earlier this week when he caused a disturbance at a pizza restaurant.

The Arlington Fire Department also responded to assist. This incident remains under investigation.

On April 18, 2014, Cambridge police reported that Sherpa, 25, then of Columbia Street, Cambridge, was arrested for disorderly conduct after they responded to a River Street address about the report of an unknown person looking into a window. Officers located the suspect, who they said became violent and was ordered from the property, but refused to leave.

Dec. 23, 2016, Boston Globe: SWAT team used to capture armed man

 This news summary was published Friday, Dec. 23, 2016. It was updated, to correct an error in copy and add details, as well as Dec. 24, to add arraignment and adjustment of main headline.

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