State police name trooper involved in Salem shooting
State police on Thursday released the name of the Salem man shot and killed Tuesday and the trooper who shot him during a confrontation near the man’s burning home.
Trooper Patrick Hawes, a seven-year veteran, shot 59-year-old Robert Bergeson after police said Bergeson refused to drop the club he was waving in a threatening manner when he charged at police.
Witnesses reported hearing multiple gunshots.
The shooting occurred in a wooded area adjacent to Bergeson’s burning home at 28 Witter Road, a blaze that fire investigators say may have been intentionally set. The cause is under investigation by the state and local fire marshal’s offices with aid from the state police Eastern District Major Crime Squad.
Prior to the shooting, state police were called to the area of 10 Witter Road to look into reports from firefighters that a man was yelling and reportedly waving a gun.
Bergeson was taken by ambulance to The William W. Backus Hospital in Norwich and later transferred to Rhode Island Hospital in Providence, where he was pronounced dead.
A post-mortem examination was started at the Rhode Island Office of the State Medical Examiners, but police said a determination of the cause of death is pending until its completion.
Hawes has been assigned to departmental administrative duty pending a review of the shooting by detectives from the state police Central District Major Crime Squad.
Findings from the investigation will be provided to the state’s attorney’s office for review.
Firefighters had arrived at the scene of the fire shortly after 6:30 p.m. Tuesday to find the three-bay detached garage engulfed in flames and a separate fire rapidly spreading inside the log cabin home. Access to the property by firefighters was hindered by several vehicles and a farm tractor blocking the driveway.
Numerous mutual-aid departments joined the Gardner Lake and Salem fire departments, helping to ferry water. There were no reported injuries among first responders at the scene.
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