McAllister arrested

Zachariah McAllister

Zachariah A. McAllister — the Vermont man accused of fleeing police, crashing his car and triggering a lockdown in Walpole earlier this month — was charged Monday in federal court with selling fentanyl, adding to the criminal charges he faces in Vermont, New Hampshire and Massachusetts state courts.

Police arrested McAllister, 28, of Westminster at a Saxtons River apartment Saturday, 10 days after the Walpole incident. In court documents filed this week, police said a local man who had worked with McAllister to sell drugs, Christopher M. Silva Jr., tipped them off to McAllister’s location after his own arrest Friday.

Silva, 29, has been charged with drug-related offenses in state and federal court. Court documents list a Bellows Falls address for him but also note he had been staying in different locations in the area.

McAllister was wounded in a shooting while on the run, according to Vermont State Police, and court documents indicate that the agency is investigating a recent incident in which Silva fired a handgun and apparently hit someone. But no charges relating to such a shooting have been filed, and officials would not confirm whether they believe Silva shot McAllister.

The pursuit that entered Walpole on Sept. 11 began that morning in Brattleboro, when McAllister — already facing a warrant after failing to appear in court to answer to a charge of driving on a suspended license earlier in the summer — sped off during a traffic stop on Putney Road, according to an affidavit filed by a Brattleboro police officer.

A Walpole police officer soon spotted McAllister’s vehicle traveling at more than 100 mph on Route 12 in New Hampshire, the Walpole Police Department said in a news release later the same day. Attempting to turn onto South Street, McAllister crashed into another car, injuring a driver, and fled on foot, prompting police to warn schools and businesses in Walpole’s business district, according to the release. Police believe he eventually crossed the Connecticut River back into Vermont.

Walpole Police Lt. Justin Sanctuary identified the injured driver Wednesday as Kathleen Flammia, 72, of Walpole. He said he did not know the details of her injuries, but that she had left the hospital. Reached Wednesday night, Flammia declined to comment.

The most recent filings in state and federal courts in Vermont — including affidavits written by Bellows Falls police Sgt. Mario Checchi and Vermont State Police Detective Sean Reilly — detail how police located McAllister, and provide more information on the drug charges facing him and Silva.

Four days before the Walpole chase, Checchi had spotted McAllister and Silva at the Walmart in Keene, Checchi wrote in an affidavit. Off duty at the time, the sergeant contacted Keene police, according to the affidavit, but McAllister and Silva left before officers arrived.

In addition to the warrant related to his Vermont driving charge, McAllister was wanted in Massachusetts after fleeing a traffic stop at which state troopers found about 2,000 bags of heroin, according to one of Checchi’s affidavits. A Massachusetts State Police spokesman could not immediately confirm those details this morning.

Two confidential informants told police McAllister was selling large amounts of heroin in Vermont and that Silva was part of the operation, according to Checchi. One informant said McAllister would drive his motorcycle to Holyoke, Mass., to resupply, returning with heroin in his backpack, Checchi wrote.

A little before 1 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 19 — eight days after the Walpole incident — Checchi pulled Silva over on Rockingham Street in Bellows Falls for a driving violation, aware of Silva’s alleged links to McAllister.

Silva had a handgun on him, and officers noted indications of possible drug trafficking in his vehicle, according to Checchi. They released Silva from the scene but impounded his GMC Acadia SUV and, after obtaining a search warrant, found a safe with about $22,000 in cash and 2,560 bags of heroin, worth an estimated $25,600, Checchi wrote. Another $200 in $20 bills was located in one of the vehicle’s cup holders, according to his affidavits.

Officers arrested Silva the following day in Bellows Falls, after which he told them McAllister might be staying in a first-floor apartment on Main Street in Saxtons River, Vt., according to one of Checchi’s affidavits.

Police obtained a warrant to search the place and, according to Vermont State Police, found McAllister hiding under a bed. The agency said in a news release announcing the arrest that it is investigating “those who knowingly harbored the wanted fugitive.”

Meanwhile, officials have released few details about the circumstances of McAllister’s injury. Checchi wrote in one of the affidavits that Vermont State Police are investigating an incident “in which Silva had discharged a handgun [Thursday] and it was believed that it had struck someone.” The affidavit does not say who was struck.

Asked whether Silva is being investigated for attempted murder — as The Brattleboro Reformer and WCAX have reported in stories about court hearings this week — Adam Silverman, a Vermont State Police spokesman, did not specifically name Silva.

“We are investigating an incident that occurred while Mr. McAllister was at large in Vermont in which he was shot in one of his arms,” Silverman said in an emailed statement. “That investigation is active and ongoing. We have no reason to dispute anything that was said about the case in court this week. Once the investigation reaches a conclusion, we will issue a news release with more information.”

McAllister appeared for his arraignment Monday in Rutland with a heavily bandaged right arm, The Reformer reported.

McAllister is being held without bail at the Marble Valley Regional Correctional Facility in Rutland. He faces four charges of selling fentanyl in Bellows Falls and Westminster this January, in addition to eluding law enforcement and other counts.

The federal complaint against McAllister alleges he sold fentanyl to a confidential informant outside his parents’ house in Westminster in January.

Charges related to the Sept. 11 incident are also forthcoming in New Hampshire, according to Sanctuary, the Walpole police lieutenant. Sanctuary said his department has forwarded the case to the Cheshire County Attorney’s Office, including potential felony charges. The charges will likely come down directly from a grand jury, Sanctuary said.

Silva is being held at the Southern State Correctional Facility in Springfield, Vt., on $5,000 bail. In state court, he faces charges of heroin trafficking and possessing a weapon during the commission of a felony. The federal complaint alleges he sold fentanyl in Bellows Falls last month.

Both men have pleaded not guilty in state court. Neither has been arraigned on the federal charges yet.

Paul Cuno-Booth can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1409, or pbooth@keenesentinel.com. Follow him on Twitter @PCunoBoothKS