Police accuse Leicester man of shooting ‘suspected’ pimp

A Leicester man is facing a string of charges including armed assault amounting to murder, solicitation of prostitution and possession of incendiary devices after police allege he shot a “suspected” pimp after a late-night sex encounter went wrong.

Dereck C. Curtis, 35, of 505 Moose Hill Road, was arrested May 24 after he denied any wrongdoing under confusing circumstances, court records show. About a dozen local and state police officers then searched for a possible gunshot victim not far from his home.

Several police reports filed in East Brookfield District Court indicate that officers found evidence linking him to two people who reported a shooting. However, the reports did not reveal any ballistics evidence or firearms, and no one was injured.

“My client looks forward to the opportunity to prove his innocence,” the man's attorney, Richard Farrell, told the Telegram & Gazette on Friday.

The chain of events that led to the arrest – details of which the police department recently posted in part on Facebook – began around 1:15 a.m. on May 24, Leicester police wrote in court documents, when authorities received two 911 calls about a shooting on Moose Hill Road.

“A caller stated that he was hiding from a white male in a pickup truck who shot at him,” Leicester Patrol Officer Ryan J. Sweeney wrote in a police report filed in court.

Sweeney wrote that a second caller reported that a white pickup truck was chasing a man who was yelling, “Help, call the police!”

Sweeney said about a dozen officers from Leicester, Spencer and Paxton, as well as state police, descended on the area. Not long afterward, a 41-year-old man who, according to court records, lives in Florida, “emerged” from the woods, Sweeney said.

The man described as the victim, who appears not to be charged with any crime, “appeared visibly shaken and out of breath,” Sweeney said, and his legs and feet were “soaked, covered in mud and littered with plant matter.”

The man told police he ran far into the woods and to the edge of the reservoir to hide. According to Sweeney, his appearance seemed to confirm that story. Sweeney said the man told them he was urinating near the road when he was shot at from a white or cream-colored pickup truck.

Sweeney said the man said he was traveling with a “friend” who fled in her truck out of fear, but he was hesitant to give any details about her.

According to court documents, police soon found the “girlfriend,” a 25-year-old woman from Jacksonville, Florida, using a cellphone ping, at the Cumberland Farms gas pump on Main Street in a Dodge Ram truck that she said she saw while responding to the shooting.

Sweeney said the woman admitted she was engaging in prostitution and drove from New Hampshire to meet a man she had communicated with on a dating app and whom she knew as “George” to offer her sex in exchange for payment.

However, she said this did not happen because “George” saw her drop off another 41-year-old man further down the street before driving to his house.

Sweeney said it seemed as if “George” had been watching her, and when she met with him, he became “paranoid” and feared he was being set up or robbed.

The woman told police that “George” paid her to leave, but then followed her as she drove away down the street. He allegedly shot her “friend,” after which she drove away and called the police.

Police found condoms, Viagra and other items in the woman's truck that they said supported the suspicion that the interaction involved prostitution. They traced a phone number the woman had given to “George” to Curtis' house, where they found a white GMC Denali with a warm hood and fresh mud on the tires, and a separate white Ford F-250 with what appeared to be a scoped rifle inside.

Police said before they could find an entrance door to knock on, Curtis appeared and allowed them to examine the firearm to prove it was an air rifle.

They said Curtis then allowed them to enter his home to conduct a “security search” to ensure they were not in danger.

Once at the house, Sweeney said, an officer suggested calling the number the woman said she had used for “George.” They eventually did this four times, Sweeney wrote, and then heard a phone vibrate somewhere out of sight.

The woman – who police denied was being “held against her will” by her “boyfriend” – identified Curtis as “George,” police said, after she made sure to pull over and speak to officers.

Curtis was arrested and questioned at the police station, the officials wrote, where he denied any involvement in sexual incitement or shootings.

They said Curtis told them he came home from work the night before around 9:30 p.m., went to visit a friend on his dirt bike and went to bed around 10 or 11 p.m. He remembered watching a Donald Trump rally on Fox News, as well as those of Sean Hannity and Greg Gutfeld.

When confronted with the information that the truck was warm, Curtis denied driving it that night, police said. They noted in their report that it had rained during the day, which likely would have washed away much of the mud if the truck had not been used recently.

Police said they obtained a search warrant for Curtis' property and found a phone in a drawer that matched the number the woman said belonged to “George.”

According to police, the phone number was registered to Curtis' girlfriend. He told police she was not home at the time of the alleged shooting.

Police said they took swabs from the GMC Denali and from Curtis' hands to look for gunshot residue. The results were not listed in court documents and Farrell told T&G he had not been informed of the results.

Reports do not indicate that any firearms were seized during the search. Police who searched the area of ​​the alleged shooting said they did not find any relevant evidence.

Police said they also found fireworks and four alleged “improvised explosive devices” during a search of Curtis' property. They called in the state police bomb disposal unit to investigate.

Police described the devices as “gray, cylindrical objects with green wicks glued to the top.” They said bomb experts “did not consider the four devices to be fireworks because of their uniform size, shape and cut (not machine-cut).”

Farrell told T&G that he believed the devices were simply fireworks.

According to police, the man Curtis allegedly shot was willing to press charges, but asked the woman he had come to Leicester with not to give police a written statement.

“Based on our investigation to date, officers had reason to believe he was likely a pimp and she was likely a prostitute under his supervision,” Sweeney wrote. He said neither the man nor the woman ultimately provided written statements, although their contact information was on file.

Curtis is charged with armed assault with intent to murder and attempting to pay for sex in connection with the alleged shooting. In addition, as a result of a search of his property, he is charged with four counts of possession of an improvised explosive device, unlawful possession of a firearm and unlawful possession of several prescription drugs that were found in his home.

According to court records, a judge denied prosecutors' request to hold Curtis as a dangerous person and set bail at $10,000, which Curtis then paid.

Conditions of Curtis' release include being monitored by GPS, observing a curfew between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. and not using drugs.