Lowell Man Caught by SWAT After Kidnapping
LOWELL -- A 27-year-old Lowell man who was in state custody due to mental issues escaped from security while wearing a hospital gown Friday night, then kidnapped a man at knifepoint before he was eventually captured by a regional SWAT team, according to police.
And this wasn’t Zachary Noonan’s first run-in with local police.
Noonan recently completed a roughly one-year jail sentence after violating his probation on a case in which he pleaded guilty to stealing about $76,000 by posing as a representative of charities representing cancer patients, wounded veterans and others. At least one business in Fitchburg was among the businesses Noonan allegedly got money from as part of that scam, according to police reports.
On Friday, he was in the custody of the Tewksbury State Hospital and was being transported to Lowell General Hospital/Main Campus for an evaluation when he took off running from an ambulance at the hospital, according to police.
Noonan, wearing a hospital gown, was initially chased by hospital security, but managed to disappear into a nearby wooded area, according to Capt. James Hodgdon.
“Hospital security pursued him but lost sight of him,” Hodgdon said.
Lowell police were contacted about 8:30 p.m., and sent officers and a canine unit to Pawtucketville to search for Noonan.
That search was ongoing about 9:30 p.m., when police got a 911 call from a woman whose husband had been kidnapped, Hodgdon said.
That man was returning from work to his home on Shea Street when a man in a hospital gown approached his car and asked to use his cellphone, Hodgdon said. When the man went to get his phone, the suspect pulled a knife and “told him to drive,” Hodgdon said.
The victim did not know who Noonan was, but police quickly made the connection based on the description of the suspect in a hospital gown, Hodgdon said.
Noonan then forced the man to drive him to several locations in Lowell, and during one of those stops the man quickly called his wife while Noonan was distracted, according to Hodgdon.
“He called her and said ‘call the police’ and then hung up,” Hodgdon said.
Police had already arrived at the man’s home on Shea Street when his wife got a second call from her husband, this time reporting that Noonan had released him near Viola and Forest streets in Lowell, according to Hodgdon.
The victim told officers that Noonan forced him to drive to a home on Forest Street and threatened to kill him and his family if he called police, according to Hodgdon. The man was not injured, Hodgdon said.
Police soon confirmed that Noonan was still at the Forest Street address where he was dropped off, according to Hodgdon.
Because Noonan was believed to be armed and had allegedly just committed a violent crime, police requested backup from a SWAT team from the Northeastern Law Enforcement Council, Hodgdon said.
The SWAT team responded to Forest Street, and eventually made entry to the home where they arrested Noonan without further incident, Hodgdon said.
Noonan was taken to Lowell General Hospital for an evaluation, and then returned to the custody of the Tewksbury State Hospital. Hodgdon said police plan to charge Noonan with armed carjacking, kidnapping and intimidation of a witness. His arraignment will be scheduled at a later date.
Noonan was initially sentenced to three years of probation after pleading guilty in November of 2017 to three counts of larceny over $250 and a single count of intimidation of a witness in connection with a scheme in which he posed as a representative of charities for groups ranging from wounded veterans, to firefighters, to cancer patients. Noonan allegedly pocketed about $76,000 as a result of that scam.
A witness who helped police bust that scam told officers that Fitchburg was one of the cities where Noonan sent her to collect checks from businesses that donated to his fake charities, according to a police report.
Prosecutors had recommended that Noonan get a three- to four-year prison sentence in addition to probation.
Middlesex Superior Court Judge John Lu ordered Noonan to pay about $76,000 in restitution in that case, and to pay $200 per month to The Jimmy Fund and New England Wounded Veterans, according to court records. Lu also ordered Noonan to take his medications and continue with mental health treatment, according to court records.
But in May of last year, Noonan admitted to violating his probation in that case and his probation sentence was revoked by Middlesex Superior Court Judge Robert Gordon, according to court records. Gordon then sentenced Noonan to a year in the Billerica House of Correction.
Noonan was also accused of assaulting his ex-girlfriend in downtown Lowell in 2017, but it was not immediately clear if that case remains pending.
Follow Robert Mills on Twitter @Robert_Mills.