An investigation is underway in Seabrook, New Hampshire, after the New England Police Benevolent Association accused Police Chief Lee Bitomske of mishandling a standoff last week, allegedly putting residents and officers in danger.
The police union says Chief Bitomske called off SWAT teams before the situation was resolved, and now the union is calling for Bitomske to be fired immedaitely.
It was just before midnight last Tuesday, when police knocked on Sal and Marilyn Tuccelli's door on Silver Lane, and told them to evacuate for their own safety.
"I am not leaving my house, this is my house," Marilyn Tuccelli said.
So, instead, they watched as dozens of officers in SWAT gear surrounded the house just accross the street where a convicted felon had allegedly locked himself inside with a loaded weapon.
"The streets were shut down, police everywhere, it seemed like something serious was going down," said neighbor Gloria Beaton.
Beaton wasn't taking any chances, so she spent the night at the Holiday Inn. When she returned home at about 7:30 Wednesday morning, she says the police were gone, but the suspect wasn't.
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"I literally crossed shadows with him in the morning alone, him and me alone," Beaton said. "I was getting out of my car he was getting into one."
According to a letter sent to Town Manager Bill Manzi from Stephen Arnold with the New England Police Benevolent Association, the standoff ended peacefully when the suspect's pastor picked him up and brought him to the police station where he was arrested and charged. Arnold claims that Chief Bitomske "placed officers and residents alike in grave jeopardy by dismissing over a dozen highly trained officers and replacing them with two patrol units, while an armed felon with known violent tendencies continued on his delusional rampage."
Manzi received the letter on Monday.
"It was a little surprising," he said.
The allegations come just a few months after a police brutality incident forced the town to fire two officers and discipline two others. Manzi promises to get to the bottom of this case too.
"As we did in the prior situation, we will try to ascertain what the facts are," Manzi said. "Just because there is a letter there, doesn't mean it is factual."
Manzi will meet with selectmen in a closed-door meeting on Friday morningto discuss the letter.
Beaton hopes to get answers soon.
"Why wasn't he arrested that night when all the police were here," Beaton said. "That's the only thing I don't understand."
Chief Bitomski is still on the job. He hasn't returned NECN's requests for comment on the issue.