Vandalism suspect arrested


WESTFIELD – A troubled young city man has been arrested and arraigned on a variety of charges stemming from a series of recent vandalism incidents in and near Stanley Park.
City police had received reports that fires had been set at the park on May 6 and 7 and on May 9 park officials reported damage to several parts of the park.
The third day’s vandalism included damage to two gazebos in the rose garden area (all the railings of the gazebos had been kicked out), damage to a nearby bathroom building, overturned flower pots and damage to two playground gates.
On May 10, damage was reported at Church of Christ, Second Congregational, across the street from the park. In that incident, a ‘Kindness Rock’ display was reportedly destroyed, a bench was broken and flower pots were overturned.
Det. Brian Freeman was assigned to the case and reports, in a court document, that a witness came forward and told him that while walking in the park she had come upon a man named Vlad starting a fire. She told Freeman that she spoke with the man who told her that he recently got off probation and also said “he wanted to burn the whole forest down.”
The witness’s information led Freeman to 31 Western Circle, the home of Vladislav Khomichuk, 20, a young man Freeman had encountered in another investigation.
Freeman spoke with Khomichuk (who he reports was wearing the clothing that the witness had described) about the recent vandalism incidents and reports “He said something to the effect of, ‘that gazebo was an accident, I just had a lot of energy to get out and I was bored’.”

A suspect has been arrested after a spate of vandalism at Stanley Park which included damage to two gazebos in the rose garden area, (STANLEY PARK PHOTO)

Khomichuk was arrested and, after his Miranda rights had been provided to him, had a brief conversation with Freeman. “During that conversation,” Freeman reports, “he admitted to me that he destroyed the gazebo by kicking the railings, he admitted to starting three fires in the park and admitted to breaking the bench at the church.”
Freeman said that his original $5,000 estimate of the dollar value of the vandalism at the park was “way low, it’s over $11,000.”
Khomichuk was charged with two charges of defacing or damaging property, two charges of setting fire on another’s land and a single charge of arson of property. Freeman explained later that he chose to charge Khomichuk with defacing or damaging property instead of, for example, malicious destruction of property. He said, although the penalties are similar, the defacing or damaging charge mandates restitution.
Freeman also said that he is disturbed by social media postings he has read which advocate violence toward the perpetrator of the vandalism at the park. He said that he is concerned about repercussions which may be directed toward the young man’s family. “The family was very cooperative with me,” he said, “They had nothing to do with that.”
Khomichuk has run afoul of the law recently for incidents apparently as senseless as the vandalism at the park.
He was arrested in late February when Officer Zachary Coderre responded to an alarm at a Russell Road service business and found Khomichuk inside. Coderre reports that Khomichuk told him that he was looking for cigarettes but the building he apparently broke into was not a retail establishment and there were no cigarettes or anything else there which would normally be attractive to thieves.
Taken to Westfield District Court the next day for arraignment, he was in a holding cell when, according to Court Officer Felix Otero, Khomichuk broke a sprinkler head in the cell, flooding the cell and the lockup area.
The court had to be closed for the rest of the day and he was not arraigned until the following Monday when, although technically released on his personal recognizance, he was remanded to a Worcester hospital for a 20-day examination to determine if he was competent to stand trial and be criminally responsible.
Khomichuk was scheduled for a pre-trial hearing on March 13, after his release from hospital, but that hearing was postponed, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, until April 10 and then again until July 24.
After his recent arrest, Khomichuk was arraigned by video conference and held in lieu of $15,000 cash bail. He is scheduled for a pre-trial hearing on 11 June.

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