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The someone on the roof wasn't Santa

Date: 12/8/2008

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

My wife and I have lived in the Maple High-Six Corners section of Springfield since April 1990. It is an inner city neighborhood with working class and working poor residents that has, frankly, clearly bothered some of our friends and relatives over the years.

It hasn't bothered us, though.

The threat of crime has remained largely a threat. We feel pretty safe here. We've had a basketball hoop stolen off the garage and a plant off the porch, but other than that, nothing.

Our biggest worry is abandoned houses as they usually fall prey to vandalism and fire.

That's why when I groggily turned on the television on Dec. 3 I couldn't really connect to what I was seeing on the tube the news that cops had cornered a guy on the roof of a nearby house took a while to sink in.

"That's just up the street," I eventually realized.

Here are the details from Sgt. John Delaney:

"At 6:50 A.M. the Springfield Police Fugitive Apprehension Unit (FAU) led by Officers Robert Bohl and John Leonard went after a fugitive from justice at 98 Florence Street. The unit was attempting to arrest a...Barry Luther Rowe age 20 of 144 Catherine Street. Mr. Rowe had outstanding warrants for...

1) Armed Robbery

2) A&B Dangerous Weapon

3) Assault with a dangerous Weapon

4) Discharging a Firearm with 500 Ft. of a dwelling

5) Carrying a Firearm

6) Poss. of Ammo Without FID

"The FAU obtained information that Mr. Rowe was staying at his girlfriend's house at 98 Florence Street third floor. The team of officers entered the dwelling and Rowe ran out the rear door and climbed up onto the roof. Mr. Rowe was observed having a firearm in his waistband of his pants. Mr. Rowe refused to come down and threatened the officers. He would not answer to commands and was verbally abusive to all the officers. Mr. Rowe put himself in great danger. Lt. Charest called for the TRU and the hostage negotiators in to assist in taking Mr. Rowe down safely. Until that team was able to arrive Detective Dennis Prior engaged him in a conversation and was able calm him down. Mr. Rowe did not have shoes and was jumping around the roof almost falling several times. The roof was three stories high and a steep pitch. It's amazing he did not fall according to officers on the scene. The officers talked him down and placed him into custody without injury to anyone. The officers on scene did an outstanding job in the recovery and arrest. Lt. Kevin Wood who was in charge at the scene went into the cellar and recovered a .380 automatic handgun that Rowe was observed to have dumped down the chimney.

"Rowe has been charged with the above warrants along with...

7) Carrying a Firearm Without Permit

8) Resisting Arrest

9) Carrying Firearm in Commission of Felony

"Mr. Rowe will be arraigned in Springfield District Court this morning."

Lucky the Wonder Bichon and I watched the last part of the drama as we took our morning walk. The Springfield Fire Department was on the scene with a ladder truck to examine the chimney to make sure a weapon hadn't been placed there. WWLP was the only news crew on the scene.

In our neighborhood, the things that drive us nuts are the quality of life issues. The blare and boom from car sound systems, the callous but apparently legal treatment of dogs keeping them chained outside 24/7 with no exercise and little shelter the collection of dead cars on property, litter God, I'm tried of picking up trash in front of the house and other issues brought on by absentee landlords and people who don't seem to care.

If we were to move it would be due to those reasons and not the idea that we weren't safe.


Huzzah! Let the recycling gods be praised! Our sacrifice was accepted! Our four-week's worth of recyclable trash was picked up last week and, boy, was I relieved. I don't have to buy another bin.

This column represents the opinions of its author. Send your comments to or to 280 N. Main St., East Longmeadow, Mass. 01028.