Father to chainsaw threat suspect: Turn yourself in

James Matteson is wanted for allegedly threatening police officers with a running chainsaw. (Photo: West Greenwich Police Department)

WEST GREENWICH, R.I. (WPRI) — “It’s not what they said, I know, but you’ve got to turn yourself in.”

That was Tom Matteson’s message Wednesday to his son James, whom police are searching for after they say he threatened West Greenwich officers with a running chainsaw Tuesday night.

According to West Greenwich Police Chief Richard Ramsay, officers responded at about 7:20 p.m. to reports of a disturbance between the elder Matteson and a tenant at 234 Plain Meeting House Road. As police tried to arrest the two men, Ramsay said James Matteson came out of the garage and confronted the officers.

“He then picked up a chainsaw, started the chainsaw, was holding it in the air revving it and yelling at officers,” Ramsay said.

Matteson then dropped the chainsaw and ran into the woods, according to Ramsay.

Coventry and Rhode Island State Police were called in to assist with the search but were unable to track him down.

Tom Matteson, who was arrested Tuesday along with the tenant, said police have the story all wrong.

“Nobody was chased by a chainsaw,” he said. “He was in the garage working. He saw his father being dragged down. He didn’t know who was dragging me down the driveway.”

As to why his son ran off: “They were yelling at him,” Matteson added. “He saw they were police officers, and he took off.”

James Matteson, 38, is wanted on a charge of felony assault on officers. He is said to stand 5-foot-9 and weigh about 260 pounds. Police said two additional warrants are out for his arrest on charges of felony arson of a vehicle and failure to appear in court.

Speaking to Eyewitness News on Wednesday, James Studley said he knows James Matteson because of the arson warrant. That fact was later confirmed by Coventry police.

“Jimmy Matteson was an employee of mine,” Studley said. “He rode his bicycle to my house at 2 o’clock in the morning, stole my girlfriend’s car, hit a deer with it, and lit it on fire in western Coventry. And we’ve been looking for him ever since.”

A look at Matteson’s criminal history shows no-contest pleas to assault, vandalism, repeated marijuana possession, reckless driving, and trespassing, as well as offenses for driving with a suspended license.

Anyone with information on Matteson’s whereabouts is asked to immediately contact the West Greenwich Police Department at (401) 397-7191.