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October 30, 2012

Sergeant held pending hearing on dangerousness

Was also target of N.H. abuse probe

MANCHESTER -- A town police sergeant arrested outside his Beverly home early Saturday after allegedly firing a gun during a domestic dispute will remain held without bail pending a hearing today to determine whether his release will pose a danger to his wife or the public, a judge ordered Monday.

John H. “Jay” Swallow, 54, pleaded not guilty to charges that include assault with a dangerous weapon, assault and battery, discharging a firearm within a dwelling and three counts of improper storage of a firearm. He was arraigned in Salem District Court.

Swallow has also been suspended without pay from the Manchester police department, according to Daniel Brown, the town’s labor counsel.

Brown said Swallow, one of four sergeants on the Manchester police force, is facing administrative disciplinary action “up to an including discharge” from the department, pending a hearing before Town Administrator Wayne Melville.

Details of triggered the dispute and Swallow’s arrest emerged in court Monday.

Police found numerous guns, as well as four samurai swords, owned by Swallow, as well as a “huge cache” of hundreds of guns and thousands of rounds of ammunition in the basement of the Devon Avenue home. The guns in the basement belong to an Ipswich man who is currently deployed in Afghanistan, police said.

Swallow’s wife, who had fled to a neighbor’s home before the gun went off, told police the couple had been arguing on Friday night. As the argument escalated, Swallow allegedly assaulted his wife.

”If you want to treat me like this, I would testify against you,” his wife allegedly told him, referring to an ongoing New Hampshire investigation into allegations that Swallow had indecently assaulted a family member there, according to a police report.

According to the police report, Swallow was “enraged” and went to his bedroom, then returned to his wife’s bedroom holding a silver Ruger handgun. Swallow grabbed his wife’s shirt and pointed the gun at her, then at the head of her dog, a dachshund, which he threatened to kill.

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