Oak Bluffs Police close investigation into vandalism

Oak Bluffs shellfish constable Donovan McElligatt had notified police about vandalism to town vehicles. — GENE M. MARCHAND/ENTERPRISE

The Oak Bluffs Police Department has discontinued its investigation into the alleged vandalism of town shellfish department equipment, after failing to come up with adequate leads.

According to town police reports, on Oct. 20, newly appointed Oak Bluffs Shellfish Constable Donovan McElligatt notified law enforcement of alleged tampering with a department vehicle and two department boats. 

The timing of the incident was suspicious in that it came in close proximity to pushback from local commercial shellfishermen, after new limits were approved and set by the town.

McElligatt told police that his deputy, Marco Petricone, had briefly parked the department truck at Pequot Point, when he witnessed a commercial fisherman “attempt[ing] to open the door.” 

“[The fisherman] parked behind my vehicle with his and walked up to the door,” Petricone’s statement read; “he said he didn’t see me in there when I opened it to greet him.”

According to the report, Petricone briefly got out of his vehicle and found upon his return that it “appeared the door had been tampered with,” as “both the driver’s side and passenger side doors appeared to have an abnormal gap between the door and the vehicle’s body.” He said the damage was not present prior to leaving his vehicle. 

Petricone told police that to the best of his knowledge, the fisherman was the only other person in the immediate vicinity at the time.

Responding to the call, Officer Kyle Sutherland stated in his report that a new truck such as the one being utilized by Petricone, and having less than 10,000 miles on it, “would not normally have a reveal such as this.” Sutherland noted, “There were no markings from a hard tool in the door jams.”

During the interaction, Sutherland noticed the same fisherman fishing off the landing, and then observed McElligatt engage him to inquire about the damage.

“[The fisherman] said he did not see anyone, and began to exit the water,” the report states. He stated that he had been “messed” with by other fishermen in the past, and proceeded to check his own vehicle for damage, of which there was none. 

Sutherland then “stood by and observed” as McElligatt “found a violation” upon inspecting the fisherman’s catch.

Sutherland noted the Oct. 20 report was to be “for documentation purposes only,” due to there “not being any direct evidence of who damaged the vehicle” at the time of the report. 

Upon questioning the commercial fisherman Nov. 1 to follow up on the allegations, Oak Bluffs Police stated that they were convinced that he did not have anything to do with the damaging of shellfish department vehicles. 

In a report written on Nov. 9, Det. Tim Millerick concluded a week prior that “based on the time that had lapsed from when I was notified on this matter, no fingerprints were taken.” Millerick ultimately closed the matter “unless other information becomes available.”