Police in Tisbury respond to report of gun-wielding assailants

Police in Tisbury respond to report of gun-wielding assailants

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Tisbury police officer John Parker with pistol drawn and Oak Bluffs police officer Dustin Shaw carrying a long rifle searched for suspects. — Photo by Ralph Stewart

Tisbury police continue to investigate an altercation between four people, one of whom reportedly had a gun, inside the cab of a Ford pickup truck. The dispute spilled out into the quiet residential neighborhood of Daggett and Fairfield avenues, off Main Street, just after 2 pm Tuesday.

Tisbury Detective Mark Santon said investigators are still attempting to unravel conflicting accounts of what took place between a couple who arrived on Martha’s Vineyard from Waltham for a quick afternoon visit with two Island men.

“We are getting closer to sorting out what actually happened,” Mr. Santon told The Times late yesterday. “We still need to talk to people on the periphery.”

Heavily armed police from Tisbury, Oak Bluffs, Edgartown and Chilmark, including an Edgartown K-9 unit, converged on the neighborhood following a 911 call reporting a motor vehicle accident and two men who threatened a couple with a gun.

Detective Santon said it is not certain if there was a real gun, a fake gun, or who had it. “Right now the stories are far apart between the parties,” he said in a telephone conversation earlier in the day.

Tisbury police detained two men and a woman at the scene for questioning. The three were later released.

Detective Santon said police intend to seek charges for motor vehicle violations against the driver of the truck, identified as Nicholas Viaggio of Oak Bluffs.

Police are continuing to search for a man they said fled the scene. His identity is known, police said.

A couple police records identified as Kyle Patel, 23 of Waltham, and Danielle Moores, 19, also of Waltham arrived on the Island for a brief visit.

Mr. Santon said there was an agreement to pick them up. “At some point either a real gun, or a fake ‘Airsoft’ gun was pulled inside the cab of the truck,” he said. “There are conflicting stories as to who pulled it on who.”

The truck struck a sign and a tree. “There are conflicting stories as to whether the driver was attempting to back away from somebody he thought had a gun or he was trying to chase down and run over two of the people from Boston,” he said.

Two of the occupants from Waltham ran into the woods and ran out a short time later. Mr. Santon said there are conflicting reports of whether somebody had drugs.

Assisted by police dog, Buster, police searched for drugs and weapons along the trail that one of the men used to flee through the woods to Main Street, but they found nothing.

The three people were questioned and released. There were no arrests.

Mr. Santon praised the Island response. “Luckily, nobody got hurt, and we will sort through it. There will probably be some motor vehicle charges.”

A witness to the incident, a seasonal resident who lives off Main Street, said he heard the sound of brakes and a crash. He left his house to investigate.

“I thought there was an accident and somebody might be hurt,” he said. “I went out there right away.”

The witness told The Times that a white Ford pickup truck had driven over the Fairfield Avenue street sign and a stop sign and come to rest partly in nearby woods. He said he saw two young people hiding in the woods.

“They were all hiding in the woods and running in the woods when I showed up,” the witness said. A young man and woman ran up to him, “and they thought I was someone of authority because they came to me and the girl said, ‘They’ve got guns. They were gonna kill us. My legs are all scratched up, I had to hide in the woods.'”

The witness said a man appeared, and he denied to the witness and the couple that he had a gun. “One was standing there with a laugh on his face saying, ‘No, we didn’t have any guns, we didn’t have any guns,’ while the other guy took off and went up Daggett,” the witness said. “I followed him a ways and called the police and gave them a description.”

He said the two men he had seen were tall, over six feet, wore black baseball caps and khaki shorts.

Police arrived and took three people into custody, he said.


  1. Disneyland makes people walk through metal detectors before they can enter…. just saying.

  2. A photo of Jonny Parking ticket with a gun drawn….pretty scary if you ask me. No one actually saw anyone with a weapon in the immediate area, I am amazed that young officers in some cases special officers who have shot a gun for like 2 hrs maybe in goodales pit, have not yet shot someone in a situation like this. Totally a miracle it is. There is no justification for him to be walking around with a pistol drawn in the situation photoed period.

  3. Behind the cops with a drawn pistol and an assault rifle (slide #3), there is a yellow road sign that reads: “Caution: Small Children at Play.” Looks like they’re playing Cops & Robbers!

  4. Nearly every paragraph contains the phrase “conflicting reports.”
    Check the nearby woods thoroughly for a possible gun before a kid stumbles upon it. Ditto for disposed drugs.
    Why don’t people just enjoy an ice cream cone on Main Street, take a dip at Eastville Beach, purchase a Black Dog T-shirt, and snap a few pictures from their iPhones as a way to enjoy a few hours on the island?
    I hate to think such idyllic days are forever gone.

  5. Why so much hating? Yes MV Cops get a bad rap with the lack of serious crimes they fight. But they are just doing their job, and responding to what could have been a dangerous situation in the proper manner. You Would think people would be happy they take their job seriously, but I guess getting too many parking tickets from them in the past will make anyone sour towards them. It’s too bad this Island is so small and the Cops that grow up here have less respect from the community because you may know them or have grown up with them as kids.. Time to grow up people, they have, and are doing their best to keep this Island safe no matter how unnecessary you think it may be…

    1. Your input on hate is just your personal interpretation. I have fished and socialized with a diversity of law enforcement people from the Island over the years. Predominately great people without question. Was our pal from Hollis back ? An assault rifle used for investigating some kids on a drug deal that ends up as a traffic incident. Training we saw over the spring was useful for more serious activities not substance abuse people covering their own tracks.

  6. I don’t know why anyone is scared of Jon, if you knew anything about gun safety you would notice that Jon not only has his finger off the trigger but also has the pistol pointed in a safe direction, they also aren’t handing kids off the streets guns he has been trained. If anyone stopped and put themselves in his shoes if I was responding to a call about sketchy kids with a gun I would draw mine too, wouldn’t you? It’s one thing to trash the ignorant masses that flock in the summer months but to try and tear down one of our own is not just inappropriate but also uncalled for. Why not point out that the criminal who was meeting off-islanders for a drop off or pick up is an islander rather than the cop stopping the crime might have written you some deserved parking tickets, I’m sure if they weren’t legal you wouldn’t have paid them.

  7. Having an assault rifle exposed on an investigation where no shots have been fired is not the most sensible portrayal of law enforcement. Not the right impression to make at the height of tourist season. A holstered weapon suffices the level of this investigation in most municipalities. I am very supportive to all law enforcement professionals but neither of these gentleman appear to be wearing a vest. Did they have anyone at the ferry terminals looking for the persons of interest?

  8. When responding to a gun call I hope that the officers would use necessary force. I am impressed with the quick response of the officers being a tisbury year round resident. officer Parker is one of the officers I would like to see around, he stopped me last week and was understand and very professional. I have to say MV82 is right when people get a parking tickets they become sour towards local law enforcement even if they are wrong.

  9. These cops look like they have “itchy” trigger fingers. I hate to say it but it sure feels like there is an epidemic across this country of cops like these, that look too ready to shoot first and ask questions later. Or are they just fearful, also not a good state of mind for a cop.

    1. Maybe they are just doing their job and responding as instructed by their superior. If I were sent to that call I’d sure have my weapon at the ready. Can’t be too safe these days!

  10. Those officers don’t look scary at all, they look like trained professionals. What would be scary is a lone officer responding to a 911 call that involves a gun, by him or herself, with their guard down. But, I see once again, everybody likes to sit back and complain, instead of being happy we have law enforcement who has their stuff together. A rifle is the proper tool for the job, beyond about 10 to 20 feet a pistol is useless in fight, the rifles and carbines dramatically increase accuracy and since law enforcement has to be concerned where there rounds go, that’s a big deal. But, I see once again the usual suspects of whiners are posting. Get it through your heads, it’s better to send too many officers for a false alarm than have somebody running around with a gun. Secondly, if there was a gun and someone got shot, I know damn well that the whiny set would be posting the opposite of “why weren’t there more police? Why weren’t they armed better? What else can I find to whine about?”.

  11. This is disgusting! What is happening to Poor Martha! Drugs, Guns, Murders — Welcome to the Jungle!

  12. GeorgeMV and et all. The island police do an excellent job. These are the two, both OB and Tisbury officers, that exemplify the up and coming yutes of this island police force. They are trained, continue to be trained and are an asset to this island. I want these two coming to my rescue god forbid I need them. You georgemv and anyone dissing them without knowing the proud men and women that work for the island police department and their very proud families should look in the mirror. You’re just hateful people. The good in these pictures is that they care and they care to protect you, regardless of your idiotic statements and hateful mongering.