GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

May 5, 2010

Manchester man escapes time in jail

Resident in 'Armageddon' gun case gets 4-year continuance

By Jonathan L'Ecuyer
Staff Writer

MANCHESTER — A Manchester man who reportedly told police he was preparing for Armageddon and martial law with an arsenal of weapons in his Bridge Street condo in February avoided jail time Wednesday after having charges in the case continued without a finding in Salem District Court.

Gregory Girard, 45, of 23B Bridge St., had charges of discharging a firearm within 500 feet of a dwelling and two counts of illegal possession of silencers continued without a finding for four years by Judge Richard Mori.

Carrie Kimball Monahan, spokeswoman for Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett's office, said Wednesday that, as part of the conditions of his release, Girard must undergo a mental health evaluation and treatment by a psychiatrist — including in-patient treatment as deemed necessary.

He must also continue to take proper medication, and surrender all weapons and military gear taken upon his arrest. He also has one week to surrender or provide proof of sale of the two firearms that are still missing, Kimball Monahan added.

Girard was arrested Feb. 9 after his estranged wife accused him of preparing for martial law with an arsenal of weapons in their home. The arrest was heavily publicized after police pulled a collection of 11 rifles and two handguns, thousands of rounds of ammunition, as well as other weapons and military-style gear from his home.

Manchester Police Chief Glenn McKiel said Girard had told police he was preparing for "Armageddon" and feared martial law would be imposed soon.

In March, prosecutors dropped a majority of the charges against Girard, but Mori said he still considered Girard to be a "danger to the community" and ordered him still held without bail.

Girard held a class A firearms license and all of the guns were legally registered. Girard was charged, however, with illegally possessing so-called "infernal machines," five items originally described as "grenades."

Those devices turned out to be legal smoke and tear gas grenades, and are not covered under the legal definition of infernal machines.

Additionally, four counts of carrying a dangerous weapon — police batons and double-edged knives found in the condo and on Girard's boat — were dropped because, at the time the charges were filed, Girard was not actually carrying the weapons, which are not illegal to own and keep in a home.

At the time, Girard's attorney, Rebecca Whitehill, argued that the law allows a homeowner to fire a weapon inside of his own home, and that the devices seized by police on Girard's boat were not silencers but flash suppressors that Girard wanted to use on his boat so he did not violate the law against sending up a flare that could be mistaken for a distress signal.

However, a state police lab later concluded the devices were indeed silencers, Kimball Monahan said.

The DA's office, represented in the case by prosecutor Michelle DeCourcey, pushed for a guilty plea and two-year jail sentence for possession of a firearm with a silencer as well as an additional three months for discharging a weapon within 500 feet of a dwelling.

"We strenuously requested jail time for the offenses due to the serious nature of the events as well as (Blodgett) was very troubled by the presence of the two silencers and felt it merited a jail sentence," Kimball Monahan said.

Jonathan L'Ecuyer can be reached at 978-283-7000 x 3451 or jlecuyer@gloucestertimes.com.