The “Henderson” house at 5 Spring Street in Ipswich, site of a shootout with the police in 1969.

The John Henderson house at 5 Spring Street in Ipswich was constructed in 1770. Lucy Jones was born in Ipswich in 1724 to Nathaniel Jones and Rachel Bradford. She married John Henderson in 1751, but she died a year later.

Gavin Keenan told the following story about an exciting event in 1969:

“I was just a kid then, but was privileged to later work with some of the police officers who responded to the call. I won’t mention their names here, as they are not the type to boast or seek any recognition. However, this began as a call of a domestic dispute between a local couple residing at 3 Spring Street.”

“I’m not certain if the presence of firearms was made known by the caller. When two police officers responded, they entered a narrow hallway and began to ascend the stairs to the second floor apartment where the couple had been arguing. While in the stairwell, they were met by a man who fired at them with a rifle, barely missing both officers. The police officers fired back and evacuated the woman. They then engaged the shooter in a gun battle from outside the home while trying to find some cover. They were pinned down for some time.”

chief_stanley_surpitski_1969
Chief Stanley Surpitski, 1969

“Other police arrived, including a contingent of State Police. More shots were exchanged, and the shooter’s rifle was disabled by a shot from an Ipswich officer. The State Police deployed tear gas and the shooter finally was removed from the home and sent to the State Hospital by ambulance. Miraculously, no one was seriously injured, although I believe there was some damage to nearby homes by gunfire. The shooter lived to see another day. I do not know if he was prosecuted successfully or did any time.”

  • (Linda George Grimes adds, ‘ I believe the shooter had severe mental health issues and has since passed away. The evacuated woman went on to remarry and has a wonderful full life.’)

“Like nearly all the kids from this side of town, I ran over to Spring Street to see the action. There was very little crowd control in those days. After it ended, we all walked up Spring Street to assess the scene. Tear gas was still in the air and everyone was milling around. A cruiser was parked near the home with some of the windows shot out.”

Michael Updike lived just around the corner in the “Polly Dole house” on East Street. He recalls, “I was there on my bike! I remember smoke from either gunshots or tear gas drifting down County Street. Mr Bucklin owned the house next door and had to spackle bullet holes in his siding.  I heard that the Ipswich police had inferior guns and had to call for better arms. They also worked very hard not to shoot the man.”

Armand Brouillette became chief after the death of chief Surpitski in 1969
Armand Brouillette became chief after the death of chief Surpitski in 1969

Linda Marshall Gianakakis recalls, “We were living on Highland Ave. Just as we drove down the hill the police waved for us to pull over and get down. It was over pretty quickly after that, and it was very scarey. The day was saved by some of Ipswich’s finest!” Celeste Penney Jim Sotiropoulos remarked, “My father had just picked me up at work and we were on our way home and couldn’t pass Wilcombs corner” (intersection of East and County Streets). Cheryl Moon Tefft says, “My Dad was one of the police officers!”

Heather Titilah Vieira lived in the house later and felt that it was haunted! “I always heard noises along the side of the house facing #3, rapping noises, thumping noises, creaks on the inside stairs – we’d look out the door and windows to see if someone was there and never saw anyone!” Another story for Haunted Houses of Ipswich!

A bullet went through the front left corner of the “James Scott house” at 3 Spring Street.

Tim Gillette now owns the house next door at 3 Spring Street. A couple of years ago while he was preparing the siding for painting, he discovered a bullet hole that went completely through the front left corner casing, exiting through the front of the house.

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