GARDNER — The father of the 21-year-old Spencer man who stole an ambulance at Heywood Hospital on Wednesday says he’s “heartbroken” as a judge has ordered his son to be sent to Bridgewater State Hospital for mental health treatment.
“This was never what I expected to happen to my son,” Harrison Barjolo Sr., told reporters Thursday, less than 24 hours after his son, Harrison, initiated a police chase through multiple central Massachusetts towns in the stolen ambulance.
Barjolo Sr. said his son, an IT student who plays on the Franklin Pierce University football team, began making delusional statements which spurred his parents to take him for a mental health evaluation at a local hospital recently.
Judge Mark Goldstein, during a Thursday arraignment at Gardner District Court, ordered the younger Barjolo to be sent to Bridgewater State Hospital for mental health treatment for no more than 20 days.
Goldstein also set a $25,000 cash bail, as recommended by Worcester Assistant District Attorney Adam Baldarelli. If Barjolo posts that amount, the judge has issued the defendant to GPS monitoring home confinement and further mental health treatment and evaluations.
The wild saga began around 5:40 p.m. Wednesday evening when Ashburnham EMS was completing a patient transport to Heywood Hospital. At that time, Barjolo is said to have gained access into the emergency room and began assaulting staff and a civilian, Ashburnham Interim Fire Chief Chris Conrad said in a release.
Barjolo began assaulting Ashburnham EMS personnel who were trying to remove him from victims he had been attacking inside the hospital. The defendant then escaped, entering and stealing the Ashburnham ambulance.
“A pursuit began immediately, traveling through Gardner and Hubbardston, striking other vehicles in the process,” Conrad said. “The suspect then drove back to Gardner and ultimately returned to the hospital, striking a pole in front of the building.”
Authorities took Barjolo into custody “without further incident.” No one suffered serious injuries during the incident, while the ambulance sustained heavy damage, Conrad said.
Barjolo faces 20 charges in total, some of which include unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, failure to stop for police, leaving the scene of a property damage accident, leaving the scene of a personal injury accident, assault and battery on an elder, assault and battery on ambulance personnel, and other motor vehicle charges.
Gardner, Ashburnham, Hubbardston, Rutland and State Police units assisted with the apprehension of the suspect, Conrad said.
Barjolo will next appear in Gardner District Court on Dec. 20 for a pre-trial conference.