The usual safety and calm inside the lobby of the police department in Salem, Massachusetts, exploded into a full-blown melee Monday afternoon.
Authorities say James Burge burst into the building wielding a sledgehammer and making threatening remarks, all because police refused to give him information about a woman he knew.
"I could hear screaming. It was a sledgehammer," said Eileen Connolly, who was getting off the elevator at the time. "I just shut the elevator door and went back up."
In-depth news coverage of the Greater Boston Area.
Salem Police Captain Conrad Prosniewki says an officer used a stun gun on the man. But when that didn't work, other officers tackled Burge.
"A lot of officers responded from every nook and cranny in the building," said Prosniewski.
Police eventually got the situation under control and subdued him before anybody was hurt or any damage was done.
During his arraignment at Salem District Court, a not guilty plea was entered on Burge's behalf. Prosecutors painted him as mentally disturbed, saying he threatened to burn the police station down and kill everyone inside. The arraignment was delayed several hours for his mental evaluation.
Burge also allegedly continued to ask for the woman's address and stated he was urged by God to protect her.
Burge is now facing multiple charges, including assault and battery on a police officer and assault with a dangerous weapon.
Prosniewski says it could have been worse and he believes his officers showed tremendous restraint.
"It could have gone the other way easily," Prosniewski said.
Burge is being held without bail and will be evaluated at Bridgewater State Hospital before his next court appearance later this month.