Hunter altercation that spawned search ends in arrest

Hunter altercation that spawned search ends in arrest

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— Photo by Ralph Stewart

Updated 5:50 pm Wednesday, December 4, 2013

An argument between two deer hunters in the Chilmark woods that escalated when one of the men threatened the other with a black powder rifle spawned a police search by land and air Tuesday afternoon, which ended with the arrest of Steve Carlson, 49, of Oak Bluffs on a charge of assault with a deadly weapon.

Chilmark Police Chief Brian Cioffi said in a press release that police received a call via the Island Communication Center about two hunters who had an altercation. “During the altercation it was reported that Mr. Carlson pointed a long gun at the reporting party and threatened him,” Mr. Cioffi said.

Mr. Cioffi said the investigation is still active, and it is possible there could be more charges.

Mr. Carlson, in an interview with The Times on Wednesday, said he acted in self defense and that his hunting rifle was not loaded. He is due for arraignment in Edgartown District Court Thursday.

Police first suspected that Mr. Carlson was hiding in a swamp in Chilmark. Up-Island police departments and a State Police helicopter assisted in the search. Reports of the search prompted school officials to secure the Chilmark School.

The search ended about 7:30 pm, after family and friends convinced Mr. Carlson to go to the police station.

Chilmark School students left for home a few minutes later than usual Tuesday afternoon. School officials locked the school, locked the doors to the classrooms, and pulled down the shades in mid-afternoon. Police stood by at the school, superintendent of schools James Weiss told The Times in a phone conversation at about 2:50 pm.

“We have delayed dismissal, until we know that things are safe, and Chief Cioffi will let the school know when they can be dismissed,” Mr. Weiss said at the time. “And that’s all I know.” Normal dismissal time would have been around 2:30 pm.

Students were all safe and accounted for, and Mr. Carlson had not approached the school and had nothing to do with school personnel or students, a school official told The Times.

Susan Stevens, the school principal, said Wednesday that the mood in the locked down building was calm.

“Everyone stayed really calm. The classes continued with their normal daily routines,” she said. Ms. Stevens said that was true of students, teachers, and parents. She added that there were lessons to be learned from the experience and that she and staff will meet to review the event.


  1. According to MV Times court report, this person has at least 2 OUI convictions, which to me signals an alcohol problem. Anyone convicted twice of drunk driving should lose their gun license along with their drivers license. It’s bad enough worrying that the gunfire is too close to home without having to worry about the shooter’s sobriety.

    1. You don’t need an FID card to use a muzzleloader. That is, presumably, why he was carrying that instead of a shotgun. FID cards are revoked for any OUI conviction.

      1. . FID cards are revoked for any OUI conviction. Not entirely true at all. See here:.
        The Massachusetts Criminal History Systems Board (CHSB) electronically and automatically notifies Police Chiefs and Firearms Licensing Authorities whenever a license holder is arraigned on any criminal charges anywhere in Massachusetts, so that the Police Chief or Firearms Licensing Officer can review the license holder’s situation and decide whether or not to suspend or revoke the License to Carry Firearms or FID card. Criminal records are also thoroughly reviewed whenever someone applies for a new license or they renew an existing license.

  2. is this duck dynasty back to the swamps, was it Richard Kimble? Did he threaten Ripper?

  3. Alcohol is big problem. Probably cost taxpayers thousands to police the effects from this drug. Large fines have to be given out to pay the cost of Police to handle it. I hope this guy gets fined thousands. Also homeowners that have detectors that go off, the police should be reimbursed for every minute it cost the taxpayers for false calls.

    1. You’re equating a false alarm on a fire or burglar system to a alcohol related accidents and arrests?

      1. Yes if it demands attention that should be used for greater problems. Probably requires an officer per department just to answer false calls. that would be fine and dandy if its all paid for by those using the service.

        1. How would you know if it was a fake call without going there? What if someone sent the alarm off and let? My alarm goes off often and once my neighbors said they saw someone try to open a window but when police came no one was there so it looked like a false call. How about the mv court system punish people like the real world?!? No person in any major city would get 2.5yr in a house of correction for sexually assaulting a child!! I bet this will either be dismissed or result in less than $200 in fines.

        2. The County collects Hundreds of thousands if dollars in “alarm fees”…

          1. The county does not collect a dime in alarm fees. It’s up to the individual town on how they handle false alarms, it’s in town by-laws.

          2. Read it. Must be incorrect or mean something else entirely. Towns have by-laws that regulate fines for false alarm. the town sends out the fines and the town clerks collect the money.

          3. I know exactly how much I’ve paid the County on behalf of ESS!!!!! Call Noreen Flanders! Ask for amount collected last fiscal year in alarm fees!

          4. Nice, my comment got deleted. I have never paid the county a dime for my alarm.

          5. 1989 court decision…. monitored alarms must pay Sheriff”s Dept fee… it’s hard being the only company following the law…but hey! Isn’t that what your alarm company SHOULD be doing? Following the law? Sigh…I hope you’re not proud of evading the law “John Royal”.

          6. I’m not evading the law. I pay my alarm company. What they do with the money is not my problem. And where is this court decision? I can’t find it.

  4. Someone (not I!) sent this story to the Howie Carr Show on WRKO, and they read part of it on the “Police Blotter” segment on Friday, 12/6.