BRATTLEBORO -- A man dressed in women's clothing and carrying a wooden sword is accused of burglarizing the School for International Training Sunday night, taking a small donation box before he was restrained.
According to court papers filed Monday, 22-year-old Samuel Lazzaro told police that he was going to leave after stealing the cash box but instead returned to the school because "I had the thoughts of wanting to scare people."
Lazzaro, of Brattleboro, pleaded not guilty to four charges, including felony burglary, at his arraignment in Windham Superior Court Criminal Division. He was released on court-ordered conditions including a prohibition on entering SIT property.
Police responded to the Kipling Road school at 11:38 p.m. Sunday for a report of a man who had broken into the building and was being restrained in a kitchen. In an affidavit filed with the court, Brattleboro police Sgt. Chad Emery said he found a man wearing all black lying facedown on the floor with another male on top of him.
The man on the floor, Emery wrote, was Lazzaro. He was "sweating profusely," so police led him outside and searched him.
"He was wearing a long black gown," Emery wrote. "He was also wearing a bra, which was stuffed with a pair of shorts in each side. It was later learned that this was in an attempt to make anyone he saw believe he was a woman."
Lazzaro waived his right to remain silent and told police that he "had this thought of dressing up in a Halloween costume," the affidavit says.
The suspect said he had entered the school and found a plastic donation box with some cash inside, according to court documents. He took it, dropped it in his car and went back into the school, "looking around for someone."
Lazzaro said he turned off the lights "so I could conceal myself, but no one was coming." So he carried two plastic cups to the third floor, then threw the cups down the stairs and hid in a classroom.
That got the attention of Thomas Germain, who told police he had been talking with two classmates on the third floor.
"I walked over and opened the classroom door and saw that a cloaked figure was standing still, wearing all black behind the classroom computer terminal," Germain told police, according to the affidavit. "I tried to communicate with him, asking if he was playing a joke or a game. He did not respond. I asked if he had thrown the cups. He did not respond verbally but gestured for me to be quiet."
At some point, Lazzaro "pulled out a sword -- brandished it -- in a threatening way," court documents say. As Lazzaro descended the stairs, "he stopped halfway down and took a swing at me, hitting me in the side of the head," Germain told police. "I followed him to the bottom of the stairs where he took another swing at me. I then hit him once in the head -- his face was still covered. He hit me with the sword. I put him in a headlock and wrestled him to the ground."
Others then arrived to assist, court documents say.
Lazzaro told police that he "got into defense mode" as Germain followed him down the stairs. Asked why he struck Germain with the wooden sword, "Lazzaro said that he wanted to hurt him," Emery wrote. "He said that he wanted to knock him out so he could get away. He said that he was not trying to kill Germain."
During Lazzaro's struggle with those who were detaining him, he also bit Germain, police said.
The donation box that Lazzaro had stolen contained about $20.
At his arraignment Monday afternoon, Lazzaro was still dressed all in black. He entered not-guilty pleas to burglary, disorderly conduct, petit larceny and simple assault.
In addition to the order to stay away from SIT, Judge David Suntag barred Lazzaro from possessing firearms. He also can have no contact with Germain and must report to Brattleboro's police station to be photographed and fingerprinted.
Court documents say Lazzaro has no criminal record.
Mike Faher can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 802-254-2311, ext. 275.