Man arrested in Scituate SWAT incident given additional charges

SCITUATE – The man arrested after a five-hour standoff inside a wooded area on Tuesday, with dozens of police and SWAT officers in Scituate, has been given additional charges and is being held on bail after his arraignment Wednesday.

Douglas Simonovitch, 46, of 491 North Main St., Oxford was initially charged with violating a restraining order on Tuesday. After further review of the incident, Scituate Police also charged him with assault with a dangerous weapon, threats to commit a crime, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.

He was held on $15,000 bail at his arraignment in Hingham District Court on the new charges and was given $5,000 bail on the restraining order violation charge.

LISTEN TO THE POLICE SCANNER AUDIO FROM TUESDAY’S INCIDENT
   
Alleged threats to shoot and kill police officers prompted a large response of local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, which Scituate Police Chief Michael Stewart said was a necessary response.

The standoff began around 8:30 a.m. when a female acquaintance of Simonovitch’s told police that they were driving down Route 3A when he got out of the car near the police station and said that he was going to harm himself, Stewart said.
   
By the time officers arrived, Simonovitch had walked into the woods.
   
Police spoke with him on a cell phone where “he indicated that if we approached him that he would shoot police,” Stewart said.
   
Dozens of officers descended upon the town and set up a one-mile perimeter around the Ellis Estate property, near the Scituate Police station, on Route 3A. Multiple schools were put into lock down and ordered to shelter in place. Homes in the area were evacuated and residents were not allowed to return to them until the incident was over. A portion of Route 3A was shut down during that time.
   
Police cruisers, motorcycles, unmarked cruisers and armored vehicles whizzed up and down the small coastal town’s streets.
   
In the end, Simonovitch surrendered to police and was taken into custody. Police searched the woods and a backpack he left behind and did not find any weapons, Stewart said. They also searched a Norwell home he had been staying at with negative results.

Officers from several local police departments were involved along with State Police, members of the Metropolitan Law Enforcement Council (MetroLEC), FBI, and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

The FBI provided assistance with helping to track Simonovitch’s cell phone and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were on standby with the firearm-sniffing dogs, Stewart said.

The size of the perimeter needed to contain Simonovitch was also a factor in the large police response, Stewart said.

“The level of the threat dictates the level of a response,” he said Wednesday. “He indicated that somebody was going to die today. He said he had significant military background and  you have to factor that in as well.”

Stewart lauded the efforts of his department and the agencies that responded.

“The suspect was taken without injury and every officer involved went home,” Stewart said.

The Metropolitan Law Enforcement Council helped to provide assistance with SWAT officers and negotiators. The unit is made up of local police and law enforcement officers from 49 towns and cities.

Several members of the Scituate Police are members of the council in various capacities. Stewart said that having the members of the SWAT unit from his and surrounding towns come so quickly helped to secure the situation.

“It’s a huge benefit when faced with this type of threat or an active shooter situation to have MetroLEC SWAT operatives arriving on scene with all their body armor and their training and their weapons,” Stewart said.

MetroLEC was formed about 20 years ago. Before then, towns like Scituate would have relied on State Police to respond with large numbers of troopers. Now, in addition to State Police responding,  MetroLEC allows them to have specially trained and equipped officers who serve in and know the towns they are in well, which can be helpful, Stewart said.

“There were MetroLEC members here from Marshfield, Norwell, Cohasset and Hingham, as well as our own. Before the MetroLEC command post got there we had people ready to handle the situation if it started breaking bad on us. That way we’re not waiting until the whole SWAT team gets here. We have guys that are 5 and 10 minutes away. If the situation suddenly deteriorated these guys are going to be our first line of defense,” Stewart said.

Canton Police Chief Ken Berkowitz, who also serves as the president of MetroLEC, said not every situation warrants a response from their SWAT unit, but Tuesday’s incident in Scituate called for it.

“Times like (Tuesday), in this day and age, you have to be prepared,” Berkowitz said. “Not every situation needs a SWAT response. But we have a lot of good chiefs in our area who know when to use and when not to.”

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