Homeowner holds burglary suspect at gunpoint
By Margo Sullivan , Staff writer

PELHAM - Armed with an unloaded shotgun, a local homeowner held off a burglar yesterday morning until police arrived.

"My heart has never pounded that hard," said Michael Pacheco, 39, of Sherburne Road, as he described how he nudged the gun on the burglary suspect's forehead and pushed him away from his home as his 3-year-old daughter waited inside.

The trouble started when Pacheco, home on a six-week layoff from his job, saw a youth breaking into a shed behind his house and confronted him.

The suspect, Joseph Guillemette, 18, of Pelham has been charged with burglary, according to police.

According to police Sgt. Michael Pickles, Guillemette allegedly drove his car down a long driveway behind 89 Sherburne Road and backed up to a locked shed. But when he tried to break into the shed, he was confronted by Pacheco.

"I observed this kid for quite a while before I did what I did," Pacheco said in a telephone interview last night.

At first, he went out and shouted at the youth but did not bring a gun with him. Pacheco said the youth is about the same age as his own son.

The youth was startled when confronted, Pacheco said, and initially told him he was looking for his dog.

Pacheco said he didn't believe the dog story and demanded to see the burglar's driver's license. When the youth got into his car, Pacheco stopped him.

"I jumped on his back and took the keys out of the ignition," he said.

Pacheco went back to his house to call police, but Guillemette was determined to get his car keys back. He came up to the house and started knocking on the door, Pacheco said.

Pacheco said the knocking alarmed him because his daughter was in the house. He decided to use the unloaded gun to scare the youth and force him away from the house until police arrived.

Pickles said the call came into police at about 9:34 a.m. to say the homeowner was holding a man at gunpoint.

"This kid was not afraid," Pacheco said. "It's the generation."

Pacheco said that although his gun was unloaded, he is trained in firearms and was prepared to fire.

"I had rounds in my hand and in my pocket," he said.

Police took Guillemette into custody. He was arraigned yesterday in Salem District Court, where a judge set bail at $100,000. He was being held at the county jail in Manchester last night.

Pacheco wouldn't say if he would confront a burglar again if faced with a similar situation.

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A few things I would have done differently; 1) I would not have made my presence known unless or until I armed. 2) I probably would have not gotten so close to the burglar to gain access to his car keys. I think its simply better to create distance, rather than close it so the burglar can seize the opportunity to gain an upper hand.