Off-duty Trooper steps in to cool Woods Hole row
When State Police Lt. Robert Moore was returning to his Vineyard home from a graduation ceremony in New Hampshire with his wife and daughter Sunday evening, he expected to enjoy a pleasant ride on the 7:30 pm ferry. The off-duty officer did not expect to subdue a violent passenger and help make two arrests.
The disruption of Lt. Moore's trip began as he and his family arrived at the Woods Hole Steamship Authority terminal. SSA general manager Wayne Lamson said that three young men who appeared to be inebriated and had boarded the 6:15 pm ferry from Oak Bluffs were late disembarking the boat.
Not aware that passengers were still on board, the terminal agents began loading the boat for its 7:30 trip to Vineyard Haven. As the three laggards walked down the ramp, one, later identified in a State Police report as Josiah Campbell, 18, of Falmouth, asked a passenger who was boarding the boat what the passenger was looking at.
Mr. Lamson said Mr. Campbell started an altercation with a man later identified in the police report as John David Cecilio of Tisbury. Crewmembers quickly responded and escorted the three mainland-bound men off the boat to an area in front of the ticket office where they continued to create a disturbance. Mr. Cecilio boarded the ferry.
According to a report filed by Mr. Moore, the Vineyard's State Police station commander, he was driving onto the ferry around 7:20 pm, when he saw activity he thought was unusual. Instead of loading vehicles, several crewmembers were running toward the stairs leading to the passenger ramp.
Off duty and unarmed, Mr. Moore immediately exited his car and went to see what all the commotion was about. He saw crewmembers separating two men who had been involved in some type of altercation.
The problem appeared to be over. So Lt. Moore walked back down the ramp to join his family when a crewmember told him that Mr. Campbell was still causing problems in the parking lot.
Mr. Moore left the ferry and saw a large group of people looking and pointing to the area across the street from the Lee Side restaurant. "I observed the individual [Mr. Campbell] who I had previously heard yelling and walking down the ramp yelling and pointing at Agent Jim Klister," Lt. Moore wrote in his report. "I heard him yell something about getting a gun.
"I approached this individual and identified myself as a State Police officer and asked what was the problem... As I attempted to produce my identification, the individual immediately threw a punch at me with his right hand, striking my right side. I grabbed the subject and brought him to the ground while he continued to yell. The subject continued to struggle and scratch and grab me as I told him to stay down, that he was under arrest for assault and battery on a police officer."
Meanwhile, Mr. Moore noticed a second individual -identified in a police report as John Costa, 24, of Falmouth - approaching from behind and also screaming. Steve Estrella, pilot of the boarding ferry, offered his help, and Lt. Moore asked him to subdue Mr. Costa. Other SSA employees assisted.
The third member of the group, Aaron Hollis, 19, of Falmouth, approached the scene multiple times but, at Mr. Moore's request, backed away in each instance.
Falmouth Police soon arrived, taking Mr. Campbell and Mr. Costa into custody. Mr. Campbell was charged with assault and battery of a police officer and disorderly conduct. Mr. Costa was charged with interfering with a police officer and disorderly conduct. Mr. Hollis was not charged.
Speaking to The Times Wednesday, Lt. Moore downplayed his efforts. He said he was most concerned about missing the boat. While holding down Mr. Campbell, he asked the captain if he would hold the boat. He was assured it would be held.
Late yesterday Mr. Lamson said he appreciated Mr. Moore's professionalism and initiative. "Despite being off duty he assisted the crew and probably prevented other injuries," said Mr. Lamson. "There is no telling how it might have escalated."