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Waltham police chief charged in attack

Assault on wife, friend is alleged

MAYNARD — They exchanged vows a decade ago on picturesque Nantucket before about 100 friends and family, and in recent years their love seemed stronger than ever, neighbors said.

But Thomas M. LaCroix, Waltham’s police chief, now faces charges of assaulting his wife, after being arraigned Friday from a bed at Emerson Hospital in Concord, where he was taken after suffering chest and stomach pains.

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“Absolutely shocking, that was the first thing that came to my mind,” said Phil Gibson, who lives next door to the 49-year-old police chief in Maynard. “This is a couple who held hands as they walked down the street, and they always seemed to get along perfectly. I can’t think of anything that would make him do that.”

According to prosecutors, Thomas LaCroix struck his wife, Andrea K. LaCroix, Tuesday inside their Wood Lane home. She left but returned soon afterward with a female friend, and LaCroix then allegedly assaulted the friend, prosecutors said.

Few details were released about the assaults. The police report and prosecutors’ summary of the case were impounded and only one member of the media was allowed at the arraignment Friday afternoon.

LaCroix appeared emotionless during the brief arraignment, which took place in the intensive care unit, according to the pool reporter who said the police chief was sitting upright in bed, looking down at times and around the room.

LaCroix faces charges including two counts of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon for allegedly striking the two victims with a bicycle rack and a countertop. He was also charged with allegedly threatening to kill the victim or victims, officials said.

He was ordered held without bail pending a dangerousness hearing set for Tuesday at 2 p.m. in Concord District Court.

After the arraignment, Suzanne Kontz, Middlesex assistant district attorney, gave a brief account of the alleged assaults to reporters.

“The wife suffered some injuries. She went to a friend’s house who observed the injuries,” said Kontz. “They subsequently went back to the home later on that night and there was another altercation against both her and the friend, which ultimately resulted in getting reported to the police. . . ”

In one court motion made public, prosecutors said they wanted a court order for any medical records created for 40-year-old Andrea LaCroix at Newton-Wellesley Hospital between June 11 and June 14.

No description of her injuries was disclosed.

Middlesex prosecutors had expressed concern earlier Friday that LaCroix might be suicidal following his arrest, but his defense attorney, Peter Bella, said he had met with his client for 90 minutes and was convinced he was not.

“He’s doing well. He has some concerns about some chest pains and some stomach problems,’’ Bella told reporters. “I have no concerns about suicidal thoughts he may have, or may have expressed at some earlier time.’’

Waltham Mayor Jeannette A. McCarthy called the arrest of LaCroix a “serious matter’’ in an e-mail and said she has named Deputy Chief Keith MacPherson as acting chief.

The mayor, who appointed LaCroix to the position of police chief in 2008, said LaCroix has been suspended with pay and his badge and service weapon are now in the custody of Watham police.

LaCroix joined the force in 1986 and rose quickly through the ranks. For much of his time with the Waltham police, he worked night shifts and simultaneously attended school, obtaining a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Western New England College’s satellite school in Bedford and earning a master’s degree from Anna Maria College in Paxton.

At the time of his appointment, LaCroix said he planned to help the Waltham Police Department earn national accreditation, increase the number of youth-oriented programs, and improve emergency preparedness plans.

“I never saw this coming,” LaCroix said at the time. “It is quite an honor for the mayor to have this much confidence in me.”

According to city records, LaCroix’s salary was $159,730.96 for the 2010 fiscal year.

On Friday, in LaCroix’s neighborhood of well-maintained homes and sidewalks lined with trees, Gibson recalled how his neighbor had studied relentlessly to obtain the chief’s position.

“He aspired for that job, and he moved up through the ranks with hard work and determination.”

Gibson said he never saw any arguments between LaCroix, who has two sons from a previous marriage, and his wife.

Andrea LaCroix visited the Gibson household on Thursday, he said, and “Physically, she appeared to be OK.”

Madeline Cyr, who has lived on the street for 27 years, said LaCroix and his wife were the perfect neighbors.

“They were so nice, we never saw any problems out of them,” she said.

“I don’t know what may have happened behind closed doors, but I can tell you he is a very nice person, so polite and helpful.”

State Representative Thomas Stanley, a Waltham Democrat who serves as a Waltham councilor at large, said he views the charges as a serious matter although he has not had problems with LaCroix.

“Professionally, I’ve never seen any issues as far as my working with him,” Stanley said.

Martine Powers of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Brian Ballou can be reached at BBallou@globe.com. Jaclyn Reiss can be reached at jreiss.globe@gmail.com.
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