TEWKSBURY, Mass. — Police say a 19-year-old Tewksbury man plugged up the toilet in his cell at the Tewksbury police station yesterday, assaulted a lieutenant who went into his cell, and sprinted to freedom — wearing nothing but boxer shorts.
For Robert Gorski, 19, of 140 Vernon St., it was a very brief taste of freedom.
Police said Gorski, who had been locked up since Friday about 6:15 p.m., because of four default warrants out of Lowell District Court, escaped just as police were changing shifts, leaving about 10 officers inside the station as he made his getaway.
As other officers rapidly spread out in the area around the police station and North Road, Officer Tim Kelly and his canine partner, Ali, tracked Gorski down in about 30 minutes.
Lt. Chip McKenna said Gorski was in a cell at the police station that was not under video surveillance. He said Gorski plugged the toilet in that cell with toilet paper about 4:17 p.m.
McKenna opened the cell door to move Gorski into another cell that was under video surveillance.
"I opened the door and he pushed me, spun me around and ran out the back door," said McKenna, who was not injured. "He knocked me off balance."
McKenna said there are fences on the left and right side of the police station, but there is nothing but train tracks and woods behind the station, where Gorski took off at a sprint despite fleeing without shoes or socks — or any other clothing besides his underwear.
A resident of Woodland Drive, off North Street, reported spotting Gorski about 4:25, and police focused in on that area and on a blue Pontiac Grand Prix seen driving down North Street at high speed as they searched, according to police radio broadcasts.
About 4:45, Kelly reported seeing Gorski running behind the North Street School at 133 North St.
Police say Gorski scaled a fence at the school, despite his lack of shoes or clothing, and was taken into custody without further struggle on the other side of the fence.
Kelly radioed that Gorski was in custody at 4:46, and someone requested that shackles be brought to the school. It's about a half mile by car from the police station to the school, but only about half as far through the woods.
Gorski complained of pain in his arm so a Tewksbury Fire Department ambulance took him to Saints Medical Center in Lowell to be checked out.
He was being held last night on the original four default warrants and on additional charges of escape, assault and battery on a police officer, and malicious destruction of property, according to police. He was to be arraigned today in Lowell District Court.
Gorski has quite a track record with Tewksbury police since turning 17, according to town arrest logs.
He was taken into protective custody in January 2009 and arrested on a warrant in March 2009 at age 17, according to arrest logs, which also report him being arrested on warrants in January, April and June of 2010 at age 18. On May 18, 2010, he was charged with breaking and entering and malicious destruction of property, according to arrest logs.
On New Year's Day this year, he was again arrested, this time for assault and on a warrant, according to arrest logs. It was not immediately clear what the warrants were for.
Published reports indicate Tewksbury firefighters put out a two-alarm fire at Gorski's home at 140 Vernon St., on Dec. 29 of last year. No one was hurt, but there was smoke damage throughout the home.