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Seconds to spare, officers save a life

Lowell cops, guns drawn, knock knife from man, rescue slashed girlfriend

By JACK MINCH, Sun Staff
LOWELL The veteran officer knew Ross Elliot. But as he held his gun inches away from Elliot's head, he was ready to fire.
Elliot and his girlfriend were backed into a closet. Her throat had been slashed, and his hands were bloodied as he choked her.

He screamed at the officers, enraged and out of control.

She struggled. Her face was turning blue.

Sgt. Mickey O'Keefe pointed his gun at Elliot's head, an arm's length away. Then Elliot flinched.

It saved his life.

"That enabled Sgt. O'Keefe to knock the knife from his hand, because he closed his eyes to flinch," said Capt. William Taylor. "They literally were getting ready to shoot him because she was turning blue."

As O'Keefe struck, Officer Norm Lavasseur sprayed Elliot with pepper spray. Elliot's arms and hands were bleeding from self-inflicted knife wounds, he was out of control, and appeared to be high on drugs, according to Deputy Superintendent Kenneth Lavallee.

Elliot started to fight, but the small bedroom was filled with police, and he was quickly subdued.

Officers had come to the apartment at 1467 Gorham St. minutes before noon, answering a report of a domestic dispute. The first on the scene was Officer David Ferry.

"When he arrived it was an extremely dangerous and volatile situation," Lavallee said.

Ferry was quickly joined by O'Keefe, Lavasseur, Lavallee, captains Arthur Ryan and Robert DeMoura, Lt. Tom Meehan, officers David Geoffroy, David Pender and Mao Ouer.

Taylor said Elliot has a long and violent criminal past "I can tell you it looks as if he did a long stint in state prison for a previous assault with intent to murder" in the 1990s, he said and O'Keefe, who knows him from past encounters, took charge of the negotiations.

But there was little time to talk, because the woman was out of air, Taylor said.

The woman, whose name was not immediately available, was taken to Lowell General Hospital. Her injuries were not considered life-threatening, Lavallee said.

Elliot was taken to Saints Memorial Medical Center for his wounds and treatment of chemical intoxicants, Lavallee said. As he prepared for transfer from there to Bridgewater State Hospital, Officer Kevin Garneau checked Elliot's clothes and found 23 bags of heroin in his trouser pocket.

"Based on the type of packaging and the amount, it did not appear to be for personal use," said Lt. Randall Humphrey. "They were pretty good-sized bags."

Elliot was being held last night at Bridgewater State, and Humphrey said he would remain there until he could be arraigned on charges of armed assault with intent to murder, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon (a knife), kidnapping, possession of a Class A substance, and possession of a Class A substance with intent to distribute.

Police superiors were unanimous in their praise for the officers' work.

"A real tragedy was averted by the fine work of Sgt. O'Keefe, Officer Lavasseur and Officer Ferry," Lavallee said.

Taylor said the officers can all be called heroes.

"Absolutely. All the officers there," he said.

And O'Keefe was justified in pulling his gun out, according to Lavallee.

"I can attest to how dangerous and volatile this situation was," he said.
 

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"And O'Keefe was justified in pulling his gun out, according to Lavallee."

He would also have been justified shooting the guy too. Good job by all of the officers involved.
 

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Awesome tactical response with minimal damage. Wish they all could go so well! Great Job!!!!!
:wink:
 
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