SAUGUS — A 43-year-old man who neighbors said was known to spout bizarre claims about the FBI and CIA, allegedly stabbed three police officers when they came to his home Thursday to investigate a report of a stolen U-Haul truck, officials said.
Steven Sossong was arraigned Thursday on assault and attempted murder charges and ordered held in a hospital for 20 days while he undergoes psychiatric evaluation.
Residents in the quiet neighborhood not far from Route 1 said Sossong seemed to have longstanding mental health problems.
“He has told other neighbors that the CIA and the FBI are teleporting people to and from his house and teleporting his dog,” said neighbor Melissa Clark. “So he definitely has some, I would say, pretty severe mental health issues.”
Three of the four police officers who were hospitalized after the violence were released Thursday, and the fourth was expected to be released soon, officials said.
At Sossong’s arraignment in Lynn District Court, prosecutor Jennifer Tsingos described a bloody, violent scene at Sossong’s Tuttle Street home shortly before 7:30 a.m. after officers arrived to speak with him about a U-Haul van that hadn’t been returned for several months.
Sossong also had an outstanding warrant for allegedly driving with an expired registration.
According to a police report, officers Alison Cooper, Christopher Taylor, and Daniel Wing, and Lieutenant Arthur Connors, went to the home and said they could see Sossong through a window.
Sossong began yelling at the officers, police said. “The nature of his comments” led Connors to believe an involuntary committal was necessary, according to the report.
Firefighters were called to help break down the door as Sossong held it shut. Taylor was the first one inside and was met with combativeness from Sossong. As he tried to wrestle him to the ground, Sossong stabbed him in the upper arm with a 6-inch fixed blade.
The other three officers were all wounded trying to disarm Sossong, police said. Wing was stabbed in his upper arm, a wound that left bone exposed, and Connors was stabbed twice in the forearm, leaving tendons exposed, Tsingos said.
Wing called for backup, and responding officers and firefighters arrived to find the scene of the attack “covered in blood,” Tsingos said.
As officers tried to restrain Sossong, Fire Lieutenant Greg Cinelli managed to wrestle the knife from his hand. The police report says Cinelli’s hands would likely have been wounded if he not been wearing a pair of thick gloves.
In court, Sossong stood to the side of the courtroom, flanked by two court officers who held him by his arms, as Tsingos read through the police report. Sossong looked up periodically but remained silent.
A photo of Sossong in the police report shows a clean-cut man with a soft smile, but in court he appeared with long hair and beard. He wore a hospital gown.
Sossong was treated at a hospital for minor injuries. At his arraignment, a not guilty plea was entered on his behalf. His lawyer did not directly address the charges. He is due back in court later this month.
Police Assistant Chief Ronald Giorgetti said the outcome of the incident “could have been much worse” and praised the officers for their restraint.
“These officers could’ve elevated that force up to potentially deadly force, rightly so, it would have been justified,” Giorgetti said in an interview. “The amount of restraint they showed to bring this person into custody is commendable.”
Asked how his officers were faring emotionally after the incident, he said, “They’re just beginning to comprehend what occurred.”
A neighbor, JoAnn Canole, said her husband saw Sossong being strapped on a stretcher after the altercation. He seemed to have been battling mental health issues for some time, she said.
“If things didn’t go in a better place, I thought something was going to happen eventually,” she said. “I stayed away from him. He never bothered me, and I never bothered him.”
Canole said she had been “kind of hoping somebody would help him out” before Thursday, telling reporters that “when a person’s not right, a person’s not right.”
His windows were kept open during the winter, and that “you could tell the house was getting ruined. Just a bunch of different little things were happening,” she said.
Another neighbor, Alex Mitrano, recalled an incident last year when police were called because Sossong “was out there yelling.”
Giorgetti acknowledged police have responded to Sossong’s address in the past but declined to say why.
Andrew Whitcomb, who lives nearby, said he was stunned by the heavy police and media presence.
“This is a very, very peaceful neighborhood,” he said. “It’s hard to think this can happen in Saugus.”
Mike Bello and Travis Andersen of the Globe staff contributed to this report.