Police: Bridgewater man attacked at his home twice in the past month in separate incidents

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 1/28/2022 5:06:24 AM
Modified: 1/28/2022 5:05:06 AM

BRIDGEWATER — Eddy O’Neil, by his own admission, says that “the year hasn’t gotten off to a very good start.”

O’Neil, a Bridgewater resident, has been the victim of two alleged violent crimes this month.

Although home of one of the most notorious speed traps in the state, Bridgewater is not known as a hotbed of crime — the town of 903 people does not even have its own police force.

O’Neil, 64, is a former chef and culinary instructor who says he lives “off the grid” and relies upon social security for income.

For him, Bridgewater is still a good place to live, back-to-back allegations of violent attacks at his home notwithstanding.

“They were people from Rutland,” O’Neil said of the first attack, in a tone that doesn’t hide his feelings about life in the city.

As for the attack that occurred 23 days later, O’Neil allows it might have had something to do with “seeing the same girl.”

The first attack occurred when a hammer-wielding man and female accomplice — thinking O’Neil wouldn’t be home at the time — showed up at his Stevens Road cabin on New Year’s Eve to stage a break-in.

The second attack occurred when a 51-year-old man, upset that a woman he had been involved with was dating O’Neil, appeared on O’Neil’s porch this week and fired a shotgun, missing O’Neil and the woman but blasting a hole in the ceiling before fleeing, according to police.

O’Neil grew up in Bridgewater, left when he was a teenager and returned 10 years ago.

He said he’s “doing fine” after the two incidents but nonetheless is taking precautions he didn’t expect he’d ever have to take “living up in the woods.”

“I bought a couple motion detectors and alarms; that’s about all I can do,” he reflected during a phone interview on Thursday.

Asked if he thought there was any connection between the two alleged attacks, O’Neil replied, “Hell no, not at all.”

The second incident occurred on Sunday, when David M. Barnes, of South Woodstock, showed up at O’Neil’s home and tossed a bag of a woman’s belongings on the porch, according to an affidavit prepared by Vermont State Trooper Adam Roaldi.

O’Neil told Barnes it was OK to enter the house, but Barnes began yelling at O’Neil and the woman, who were both inside the house, before Barnes walked back to his vehicle and retrieved a shotgun, according to police.

Barnes approached the porch and then used the muzzle of the gun to smash the screen door and pointed the weapon inside the living room, according to police.

When the couple ducked into the kitchen, Barnes went around to the side and pointed the gun at them again through the kitchen window, according to the affidavit.

O’Neil then walked back where he faced off against Barnes and was able to grab the muzzle of the shotgun and deflect it away and over his shoulder when Barnes pulled the trigger, the affidavit said. The blast hit the ceiling.

O’Neil was able to stun Barnes by striking him in the face and head “several times” with a muzzle-loading pistol he had retrieved earlier; O’Neil then ordered the assailant at gunpoint to retrieve any ammo from the truck and leave it and the shotgun behind, according to police.

Barnes complied and “then left the scene,” only to be arrested later at his address on Kendall Road in South Woodstock, according to police.

Barnes was arraigned in Windsor Criminal Court on Monday with charged with aggravated domestic assault in the first degree with a weapon, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, reckless endangerment and interference with emergency services. He pleaded not guilty and is being held without bail at Southern State Correctional Facility in Springfield.

As previously reported, a 37-year-old man and 36-year-old woman were arrested by Rutland City police on Jan. 3 for allegedly assaulting O’Neil during a robbery of his home on New Year’s Eve.

O’Neil told troopers investigating the attack and robbery that he had been struck several times with a hammer inside his home around midnight and the man and woman — whom O’Neil described as the daughter of a friend he had attended school with — took two firearms, his wallet, a cell phone and two air guns, police reported.

Three tires on his vehicle were also slashed, according to police.

Orlando Cruz, 37, was charged with assault and robbery with injury, burglary of an occupied dwelling, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, unlawful mischief and interference with access to emergency services.

He pleaded not guilty and was ordered held without bail at the Marble Valley Regional Correctional Facility in Rutland.

Tessa Hazen, 36, was charged with being an accessory aiding in the commission of an assault and robbery with a weapon and burglary of an occupied dwelling and was released on a $5,000 unsecured appearance bond. She pleaded not guilty.

People in Bridgewater on Thursday said that O’Neil pretty much keeps himself, although he is “well known” around town, according to Adriana Curutchet, who runs the Bridgewater Sustainable Earth Foundation, a nonprofit that owns part of the Bridgewater Mill on Route 4 in the heart of town.

Curutchet, who described O’Neil’s reputation via email as “hard-working” and “self-made” and said he has a penchant for sports cars, noted that O’Neil “lives off the grid, so to get to his house, you are looking for him, not a casual place to drive.”

Contact John Lippman at jlippman@vnews.com.

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