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Alleged shooter cleared
By Conor Berry, Berkshire Eagle Staff
Article Last Updated: 12/21/2007 05:02:21 AM EST

Friday, December 21
PITTSFIELD - A Great Barrington man has been cleared in connection with a shooting that narrowly missed two men as they drove through a Pittsfield housing project in October.

The Berkshire district attorney's office yesterday formally dropped charges against Wisdom R. Ellerbee III, who was charged with an Oct. 22 shooting at Wilson Park, a public housing project off Wahconah Street.

Ellerbee pleaded innocent to charges of assault and battery with intent to murder and with discharging a firearm at his Oct. 26 arraignment in Central Berkshire District Court.

Ellerbee and his family have proclaimed his innocence since the 25-year-old man was charged with the shooting, which is still under investigation by the Pittsfield Police Department.

Ellerbee's attorney, Thomas J. Donohue Jr. of Pittsfield, praised the district attorney's office for dismissing the case against his client. "I applaud the commonwealth for doing the right thing," Donohue said yesterday.

Ellerbee's mother, Alicia Ellerbee, defended her son, saying he acknowledges the truth and "admits when he's wrong."

She said her son has tried to live a virtuous life :---) since being paroled in August from prison, where he was serving a six-year term for narcotics offenses. Two months after his release from prison, Ellerbee was charged with the Pittsfield shooting.

"When this happened, he said, 'Mommy, I didn't do this," Alicia Ellerbee told The Eagle in a telephone interview yesterday.

Wisdom Ellerbee had been held at the Berkshire County Jail & House of Correction since his arrest. As of last night, however, he was no longer at the jail, according to a corrections official, who could not confirm when Ellerbee was released.

Pittsfield Police Detective Sgt. Marc Strout defended the department's initial investigation, noting that a witness at the scene identified Ellerbee as the shooter. Ellerbee was at Wilson Park on the night of the shooting, Strout said.

"Additional information came forward, and the charges were dismissed," Strout said. "That's how the system is supposed to work."

The detective declined to say whether police have a suspect in the shooting.

Ellerbee's mother criticized police for jumping the gun and arresting her son before conducting a thorough investigation. Even though the charges have been dropped, she said, "his whole life was disrupted."

Wisdom Ellerbee has a lengthy criminal record that includes numerous probation violations and drug and weapons convictions, according to the district attorney's office.

The victims of the shooting - Stanley J. Sumy III and Vernon J. Cook, whose addresses were not immediately known - were not injured when Cook's vehicle was sprayed with bullets.

Sumy, a convicted sex offender, and Cook told police that they went to Wilson Park to collect money owed to them by Ellerbee's brother. A black pellet gun resembling a real weapon was found in Cook's car.
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