Editor's Note: This version clarifies that a co-worker, not the ex-girlfriend, reported the threats to the manager.
WESTERLY — A Hope Valley man who triggered the evacuation of the Westerly Home Depot on Feb. 27 with an alleged shooting threat against co-workers has been charged with disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor. Officers armed with rifles had responded to the disturbance.
The man, Peter Haberek, 25, of 257 Kenyon Hill Trail, was arraigned Friday in Fourth Division District Court. He pleaded not guilty and was released on a promise to appear, according to court records.
Westerly police arrested Haberek at the store last month after a manager called 911 at about 5 p.m. to report that she and a second worker had locked themselves into the office as a safety precaution. The manager said that the worker had received text and verbal threats from Haberek.
Police said Haberek indicated that he believed he was about to be fired and "would have no problem shooting up my co-workers."
Police Chief Shawn Lacey said two officers were dispatched and entered the store with long guns. One of the officers went to the office where the manager and worker were hiding, and the other ordered an employee to pull a fire alarm to clear the store.
The employees provided the officers with a description of Haberek, who was believed to be in the appliance section, where he worked. He wasn't there, but after the store was evacuated the police found Haberek in the parking lot among the evacuees. He was ordered to the ground and handcuffed, the police said.
Lacey said further investigation revealed that Haberek had told a co-worker — a former girlfriend who had broken up with him six months earlier — that he was having a bad day and had an AR-15 that he "wasn't afraid to use." Haberek told the woman he believed he would be fired and needed to run home, and added that he would return with gun, the police said.
According to police, that threat was shared with a second co-worker, a mutual friend who was aware of the situation. That friend then reported the threat to the manager. The friend and the manager were in the office when officers arrived, police said. The ex-girlfriend was not aware that her friend had shared concerns regarding the texts.
Police said he had also made several other threatening comments, both spoken and in text.
No firearms were found in a search of Haberek and his truck, the police said. He was the registered owner of a Springfield Armory 1911 series .45 caliber handgun, which was turned over to police for safekeeping pending the outcome of the court case. There was no evidence that he owned or had access to any assault rifles, police said.
As part of the conditions of his release, Haberek was issued a no trespassing order at the Franklin Street store. His employment was terminated immediately after the incident, police said.
Haberek is due back in court for a pretrial conference on March 29.