Police in Tisbury respond to report of gun-wielding assailants

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.