WESTFIELD – Westfield District Court was closed Feb. 21 after a detainee allegedly broke a sprinkler head in his cell, flooding the cell and leaking water into other parts of the courthouse.
Court Officer Felix Otero reports in a court document that he had escorted a defendant awaiting arraignment – Vladislav Khomichuk, 20, of 31 Western Circle, Westfield – to a holding cell. A short time later, Otero reports, he heard what sounded like a water main break and an alarm sounded. “Mr Khomichuk had broken the sprinkler head off and triggered the alarm and sprinkler system, flooding his cell and the lockup area” Otero wrote.
The detainees at the court were promptly transported to the Westfield Police Department for their safety and subsequently transferred to the custody of the Hampden County Sheriff’s department.
Westfield Fire Department personnel and apparatus responded to the courthouse and deactivated the sprinkler system but it was found “that the water had gone through the walls and had leaked into the main lobby area, courtroom #1 and the back hallway behind courtroom #1”, Otero reports. The water was found to have been contaminated with oil from the pipes.
After consultation with Deputy Fire Chief Seth Ellis, First Justice William O’Grady ordered the building be closed for the rest of the workday to facilitate the clean-up effort.
Khomichuk was subsequently charged with malicious destruction of property valued more than $1,200 and for disrupting court proceedings.
He had been brought to court by city police for arraignment on charges of breaking and entering a building in the nighttime with intent to commit a felony and malicious destruction of property valued more than $1,200.
Those charges stemmed from an incident Thursday night when Officer Zachary Coderre found him inside a Russell Road business, Toomey Associates.
Coderre had responded to a burglar alarm and found that a back door had been forcibly opened. Inside he found Khomichuk who said, when asked what he was doing there, “I was looking for cigarettes.” Coderre also found that the security system control panel had been”ripped off the wall and thrown in the trash.”
Khomichuk was arrested but his arraignment was delayed by the flooded court until Monday.
Arraigned on Monday before Judge Patrick S. Sabbs for both cases, Khomichuk was remanded to a Worcester hospital for not more than 20 days. There, he will be examined to determine if he is competent to stand trial and be criminally responsible.
He is scheduled to return to Westfield District Court on March 13, 2020.