GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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December 7, 2009

EMT armed to the teeth

Police find cache of weapons in Rockport man's home

ROCKPORT — The part-time EMT arrested last week on larceny and obstruction of justice allegations now faces multiple drug and weapon charges after police found a cache of firearms, thousands of assorted prescription pills, a tear-gas launcher and a military-grade rocket launcher — all inside his Rockport apartment.

James M. Atkinson of 31R Broadway, was arrested on the new charges after police officers executed a search warrant obtained from Gloucester District Court.

Police had sought the warrant suspecting that Atkinson — whose license to carry a gun was suspended last week off the original felony charge — failed to relinquish all of his firearms the first time around. That, police said, came after officers noticed he had handed in ammunition for guns that he hadn't turned over.

Sgts. Mark Schmink and Robert Tibert, together with Patrolman Daniel Mahoney, arrived at Atkinson's apartment shortly after 8 a.m. Sunday. Atkinson had barricaded both doors, but eventually let officers inside the home without incident, police said.

According to police reports, officers discovered firearms that included a .357 magnum and rifle; hundreds of rounds of ammunition for a wide range of firearms, including a Glock handgun; mace; military-grade smoke bombs; more than 1,000 pills; a tear gas launcher; a "U.S. Army" rocket launcher and what police estimated to be millions of dollars worth of surveillance equipment.

Most of the weapons and ammunition were found inside a locked closet, which Atkinson at first refused to open for police. Atkinson opened the closet only after officers threatened to break down the door.

As police searched the apartment, Atkinson stated he was having a heart attack. The 47-year-old was transported to Addison Gilbert Hospital where he was treated and released a short time later. He was booked at the Rockport Police station while still wearing a hospital gown.

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