GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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October 31, 2012

Judge: Sergeant to be held until trial

MANCHESTER — “He’s drunk, and he has a gun,” the wife of a Manchester police sergeant told a 911 dispatcher in the moments after fleeing her Beverly home late Friday night.

But John “Jay” Swallow’s wife is now refusing to cooperate with prosecutors, telling a Salem District Court judge yesterday that she was invoking spousal privilege, the right of married couples not to have to testify against a husband or wife. Swallow’s attorney said she does not want to see her husband locked up.

Despite that, Judge Michael Lauranzano ruled that Swallow, 54, poses too great a danger to both his wife and the public if released. He granted a motion by the district attorney’s office to hold Swallow without bail for up to 90 days or until trial, whichever comes first.

Manchester’s town counsel said Monday that Swallow is on unpaid leave.

Swallow is facing charges that include domestic assault and battery, assault with a dangerous weapon, and improper storage of firearms, after his wife told police that Swallow had grabbed her and pointed a handgun at her head during an argument.

The gun went off, moments after Swallow’s wife fled from the home.

Police seized 16 guns from Swallow’s bedroom. They also seized an extensive gun collection in the basement that belongs to an Ipswich man serving in Afghanistan.

“This is a very difficult decision,” said Lauranzano. “I’m getting a snapshot of Mr. Swallow’s lowest point in life. I see his three sons here and I feel horrible. I can’t get around the fact that he took out a gun and grabbed (his wife) and pointed it at her.”

“If he wasn’t a police officer, I wouldn’t be torn this way,” said the judge, suggesting that but for Swallow’s three decades in law enforcement, first in Essex and then, since 1988, in Manchester, he wouldn’t hesitate about holding him in custody.

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