Athol man sentenced to 18 months in shooting incident
|Published: 12-04-2023 5:36 PM
GREENFIELD — An Athol man will remain free another week before serving time in county jail after pleading guilty to eight charges stemming from a domestic incident involving a firearm on April 30, 2022.
Timothy Chandler, 37, had his sentence stayed until Dec. 12 and will use this time to quit his construction job and turn in his company-issued truck, defense attorney David Rountree said inside Franklin County Superior Court on Monday.
Chandler pleaded guilty to two counts of assault with a dangerous weapon, two counts of reckless endangerment of a child and single counts of assault and battery on a family/household member, unlawful possession of a shotgun, unlawful possession of ammunition, and improper storage of a shotgun near a minor.
Chandler will be sentenced to a pair of 18-month terms in jail, to be served concurrently, for the two charges of assault with a dangerous weapon. Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Suhl said in an interview that Chandler will be eligible for parole in about four months and that he has about five months credit for the jail time he accrued between the time he was arrested and when he was released on bail with conditions.
Chandler will also be subject to three years of probation when he is released. The state decided against pursuing an initial charge of armed assault with intent to murder.
Chandler had been scheduled to begin a bench trial on Monday but instead both attorneys explained to Judge Karen Goodwin what they felt they could prove and, after a 1½-hour break in session, Chandler changed his pleas as part of a deal with the Northwestern District Attorney’s Office.
Suhl detailed the events that unfolded between Chandler and his wife in the early hours of April 30, 2022. In the heat of an argument, Chandler retrieved a shotgun from the kitchen, loaded it and fired a shell into the television.
This caused his wife to flee upstairs and barricade herself and her children in a room. She then crawled out a second-floor window and slid down a roof onto a porch before going to her vehicle and repeatedly pushing the horn in an attempt to signal for help. She then ran to neighboring houses, yelling for someone to call 911. The incident was captured on a doorbell camera and the footage was shown in court Monday.
Chandler then exited the house with the loaded shotgun and fired eight more shots. Officer Brandon Newell then arrived on scene and Chandler fired three more shots into the air. Newell drew his service weapon and ordered Chandler to drop his shotgun. Chandler complied after initially cursing at Newell and telling him to shoot him. Rountree later described this as an attempt at “suicide by cop.”
Suhl argued that jail time was appropriate because of the fear imparted on Chandler’s family members as well as several neighbors, eight of whom were in the courtroom on Monday.
“They were absolutely terrified,” she said.
A few neighbors gave victim-impact statements and two people directly told Chandler they forgive him but that he must be held accountable for his actions. They also detailed their struggles with anxiety since the incident.
Newell, who had graduated the state’s full-time police academy months prior, also delivered an impact statement.
“Growing up, I always wanted to be a cop. My dad was a cop and I wanted to be just like him,” he said. But this experience made him question his career choice and he started seeing a therapist. Newell also advocated for jail time.
Rountree argued that a more fitting punishment would be to address the underlying causes that led to the incident. He said Chandler has no prior criminal record but is addicted to alcohol and has been sober since that day.
“He knows what he did was terrible,” Rountree said.
He said the incident was the result of an escalation of an argument about a cellphone and his client had been ready to leave the home when he realized he forgot his inside the house. Rountree also said Chandler had been on medication for depression and his dose was doubled shortly before the incident. He also mentioned that the medication can worsen suicidal tendencies. Rountree said Chandler has completed a recovery program at the Hurley House in Waltham and he carries his grandfather’s Alcoholics Anonymous sobriety chip in his pocket.
“Everybody’s safer with Tim moving in the right direction,” Rountree said. “I understand the gravity of the situation, and he does, too.”
Goodwin recessed the session at roughly 12:30 p.m. to read some submitted victim-impact statements. As people filed out of the room, Chandler shook hands with Newell and commended him on his actions.
“For what it’s worth, thank you for not shooting me,” he said. “I know it doesn’t mean much.”
Reach Domenic Poli at: email@example.com or 413-930-4120.