It was just before 2 a.m. when loud banging noises outside his Framingham home jolted the police sergeant awake. It sounded like someone was breaking into his house. The 11-year veteran of the Newton police force loaded his gun before he walked outside to investigate.
The source of the ruckus that early December morning would turn out to be five of his fellow Newton police officers who egged his house, but the sergeant’s account illustrates that in those first minutes he suspected a crime, not a joke, and the outcome could have been dangerously different.
“I got up, grabbed my phone, a flashlight and loaded my gun,” the sergeant wrote in a letter to interim Newton Police Chief Howard Mintz after the incident.
Newton officials released the sergeant’s letter, along with those written by the five off-duty police officers who egged their boss’s house, in response to a Boston Globe records request. The incident drew national attention to Newton earlier this month when it first came to light, but the letters add new details to the episode.
In their letters, the police officers stressed that they were playing a practical joke. They repeatedly apologized for their actions. Mintz had demanded that they write the letters to explain their actions in a suburban Framingham neighborhood in the early morning hours of Dec. 11.
“I never thought that this most recent prank could potentially get so out of hand,” one officer wrote. “I truly regret this decision as I wouldn’t want to ruin my reputation, but more importantly the reputation of my family and the Newton Police Department.”
Another officer’s mea culpa concluded, “My actions have embarrassed the department in which I love to work and myself. I have been sick with regret and sorrow over all that I have lost here.”
‘I never thought that this . . . prank could potentially get so out of hand.’
Newton officials, who have declined to name the five officers, redacted the names and any identifying information in the letters. But the Framingham Police report of the incident identifies three of the officers who participated in the egging as Michael Iarossi, Declan Healy, and Jeff Boudreau.
The five officers have been disciplined, Newton officials have said.
Mintz said the sergeant was alarmed initially by the loud banging, but “police officers are trained to be very sure, to be completely certain, about a threat of one’s life. There’s very certain criteria that they are trained on to use deadly force.”
In their letters, the five officers describe how they were driving around the Framingham area, reminiscing about previous pranks officers had played, when they hatched one of their own. They stopped at a Cumberland Farms convenience store, bought some eggs, and tried to think of a target.
“At this point, I was able to recall’’ that the sergeant lived nearby, one officer wrote. “And was able to remember the street from being there in the past.”
The sergeant liked to call his home “Shangri-La,” but he had also been involved with pranks in the past, the officers wrote.
When they arrived in the sergeant’s neighborhood, two officers stayed behind in the car, and three got out and fired the eggs at the house. Then they lost track of each other.
“We decided to turn the vehicle around and after doing so we could not find anyone,” the driver wrote.
Inside the house, the noises woke the sergeant, who went outside to investigate.
That’s when he noticed that his wife’s car had been egged. Several splatters of egg stained his house, too.
The sergeant called the Framingham police to report the vandalism.
As he stood in his driveway talking to the Framingham dispatcher on his phone, a small red car drove slowly by his house, the sergeant wrote.
The car stopped. Two men got out and walked toward the house.
As soon as the men noticed him, one of them tried to hide in a neighbor’s yard, the other walked in a different direction.
Soon after, a Framingham police officer stopped the red car.
“I gave the officer my identification and explained to him we were playing a prank on a coworker and apologized for wasting his time,” the driver said. “The officer sent us on our way.”
Before leaving the neighborhood, the Newton officers picked up two of their buddies after contacting them by cellphone.
But one, Boudreau, did not have a cellphone with him so he was left behind. Framingham police picked him up later, “intoxicated and in someone’s yard,” the sergeant wrote.
Framingham police gave him a ride home.
The sergeant wrote he was “totally embarrassed and angered by this situation,” and had to take a drive “to settle down.”
When a Framingham police officer asked the Newton sergeant “if I wanted this incident documented and I told him no, and that I would handle this matter at work.”
The next day, three of the Newton officers talked to the sergeant over the phone and met with him to apologize.
It is unclear if the other two officers involved apologized immediately. Newton police officials only became aware of their involvement in the egging during an internal investigation into the matter.
The sergeant asked that the pranksters pay to detail his wife’s car, power wash his house, and apologize to his wife. They sent her fruit basket.
“Before parting ways,” one officer said, the sergeant “told us that the next time we go out drinking and decide to egg a house, to make sure he’s with us.”
The sergeant expected that to be the end of the case. A day later, the sergeant and officers were all ordered by Mintz to compose “Dear Chief” letters.
In their letters, the officers dismissed speculation that the episode reflected any tensions between sergeants and patrolmen in the police department.
“I do not feel it is helpful for anyone to try and make this incident into something other than the prank that it was intended to be,” one of the officers wrote.For more Newton news, go to boston.com/newton. Deirdre Fernandes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.