Posted on Friday, October 23 2009 by Heather Brandon
Yesterday at about 5:30 pm, according to a report in the Courant, police in Hartford responded to a report of a robbery at a McDonald’s restaurant at 507 Flatbush Avenue. The 21-year-old armed and dangerous suspect was reported to be barefoot, wearing tan shorts and a grey t-shirt over a grey long-sleeved shirt. He evidently fled the scene in a truck and witnesses were able to provide a description. The truck was spotted shortly thereafter, at about 6:10 pm, on Bonner Street not far from the Trinity College campus, where I happened to be headed for a 6:30 pm class. When I arrived at 6:20, there were police all over the steep, wooded hill between Summit and Zion Streets.
By 7:00 pm, the college campus was put under a lockdown—the first time anyone I’ve spoken to can remember such a thing happening. Below is a chronicle of the events as they unfolded on Twitter. As one of the people stuck on campus and witnessing the event first-hand, it was a great relief to be able to interact via tweets with people not on the scene using this often rather frivolous social media tool.
People in my classroom were not terribly flustered, even though our building was right along Summit Street and we could later overhear police trying to negotiate with the suspect using a megaphone, and we observed police with large guns posted up and down Summit. SWAT officers were brought in as well as a search helicopter after the suspect fired shots shortly before 8:00 pm. The scene outside was grim.
The campus lockdown ended at about 10:00 pm, after police finally discovered the suspect in the woods, having sadly taken his own life. He was from North Stonington, Connecticut and according to an email from the college’s dean of students, Fred Alford, the suspect had early indicated somehow to family members his intentions to commit a robbery and then end his life. Why he chose to do this, and in this area in nearly the very center of Hartford in particular, remains a mystery.
6:24 PM Summit St at Trinity College crawling with city cops. Officer tapped on my window and told me to get inside a building right away.
6:25 PM Looks like someone is trying to flee cops on the hill between Zion and Summit. Kind of a tough spot to search now that it’s dark out.
6:31 PM Officer was all, “Um, I don’t mean to alarm you, but… Could you get insidepleaserightawayasfastasyoucanintoabuilding?”
6:32 PM So I was all, “Oh, I’ll be happy to help you in avoiding an unpleasant hostage type situation,” and didn’t say anything and just obliged.
6:35 PM Looked like the action started on Zion St near the E n R market. Not sure just tons of action down there.
6:42 PM @brendanmahoney could it be…you’re the guy they’re looking for?
6:49 PM Now there’s a lockdown on campus. Dangerous subject possibly on campus. Not good.
6:50 PM @KateRothwell not really… but it seems kind of ugly from what I’m gathering. I’m in class now.
6:51 PM @realhartford nice thick old Trinity walls will hopefully repel the bad guy. Unless there’s an unlocked door. I’m along Summit in class
7:17 PM Update: suspect is white, barefoot, armed and dangerous, and may have robbed the McDonald’s on Flatbush.
7:36 PM @brendanmahoney you really should turn yourself in
7:49 PM @rachbarlow hoping the same. Still on lockdown here.
7:50 PM @TraceyMozdzierz I hope it doesn’t come to that! But now that you mention it, there is a cute little room with a comfy window seat.
7:51 PM @mrceder you might indeed want to wait a little while, but who knows where this lunatic went.
7:52 PM @fastlanect that’s what the cops are saying…gotta wonder about that eh?
8:00 PM @heddahfeddah Well, I am heading home for 20.30, otherwise I’ll have to wait until 22.00. I guess I will take my chances. :/
8:08 PM @mrceder just avoid any barefoot white men. Should be easy.
8:09 PM @hartfordjoe yeah – and I got here just in time for this fun and games.
8:11 PM @scarybunnies yes – the barefoot gunman is still on the loose. Or maybe he has nunchuks. Or knives. Or…fountain pens.
8:13 PM @paperhurts he probably didn’t make it that far, it’s true
8:14 PM @hartfordjoe yes you barely missed this. What time was that? I got here at 6:20 and it looked like it had just gotten underway.
8:16 PM @gideonstrumpet white barefoot dude armed and dangerous. Campus lockdown.
hartfordjoe 8:19 PM Already hearing from the community haters about how we need to make it Fortress Trinity.
8:22 PM @hartfordjoe I’m glad you’re okay. Lockdown started right about then and the cops were clearly on edge.
8:23 PM Courant reports suspect is suicidal. Shots were fired from the woods about 30 mins ago. Negotiators called in. Using a thermal imaging tool.
8:25 PM @rojopelo yeah. Bummer.
brendanmahoney 8:31 PM two ambulances have raced by house over the last 45 minutes. I hope no one is hurt.
8:34 PM @brendanmahoney shots fired may have been related to suicidal nature of suspect… or not. Maybe ambulances are precautionary.
8:35 PM @fastlanect ugh.
8:36 PM @gideonstrumpet yes! I’m a fail at student tonight, however.
8:44 PM @gideonstrumpet barely paying attention to this video I’m supposed to be watching
8:45 PM Stuck here forever //There is a police helicopter, cool. Summit is blocked off. NBC 30 is here. And a small crowd is forming. (via @mrceder)
8:55 PM @pocklock ha, we’re all stuck in one way or another…
8:56 PM @hartfordjoe sigh. Yes. Doesn’t Seabury connect to Mather somehow? Class is over. Roomful of hungry, stuck people.
8:58 PM Talking with classmates about how the threat here isn’t from the neighborhood. It’s a guy from North Stonington who paid a visit.
8:59 PM @Anechoic what are you talking about?? Nuke the helicopter??
9:03 PM @gideonstrumpet now the professor is letting us browse the news online to find out what’s going on just outside our door
9:04 PM @hartfordjoe how about informal…
9:04 PM @rachbarlow I’ll take small comforts gladly
9:05 PM @gideonstrumpet well, class is over and we’re stuck, so… Yeah.
9:07 PM @Anechoic So that’s where you draw your ideas about what you’d do to New York City if you were emperor?
9:16 PM Can hear/see standoff in the woods from windows in my building along Summit St.
9:20 PM There’s a city police car parked on the Long Walk
9:22 PM @mrceder yeah. Near where that little street leads down from Summit.
9:24 PM SWAT officers posted all over Summit St. With big guns.
rachbarlow 9:26 PM kudos to the trinity staff that have to handle crises like this
9:28 PM Campus safety telling us to stay where we are. But a janitor I just talked to said I could leave to go over to Mather Hall (food). Hmm
9:30 PM @gideonstrumpet hard to tell. Seems intense from the looks of it. Where is the guy?!?!
scuttlebuttt 9:32 PM also… what on earth is going on at Trinity… ?
9:32 PM @mrceder so so seriously
9:32 PM @brendanmahoney I so want to do that
9:33 PM @Anechoic oh okay I was just worried it was all from Alien.
9:37 PM @scuttlebuttt dude. Barefoot
9:41 PM I’m seeing some students walking around on campus in spite of continued lockdown.
9:46 PM @gideonstrumpet encourged by the janitor, no doubt.
9:49 PM Something happened. All the officers are leaving their posts.
9:51 PM I think it’s over.
9:52 PM My classmates and I are all attempting to leave the building
9:55 PM Just walked by a SWAT officer and city cop who are pulling out – seem relaxed now
9:56 PM Asked officer if this is over, or resolved in any way. He hesitated and said, “It’s resolved… but they’re still in the woods.”
9:57 PM Told me to take Summit St heading away from New Britain Ave. Wonder if they’re looking for a body now, or what.
10:11 PM The dude killed himself in the woods. Very sad.
10:11 PM Made it home safely. Doesn’t sound like anyone else got hurt.
10:23 PM Where did the guy who robbed a McDonald’s and shot himself get his gun? Suicide note at his home laid out his intentions.
10:27 PM @heddahfeddah what a story. What he shot himself?
10:30 PM @etswatch yeah.
10:43 PM @iambunnybee email from the college dean of students.
11:30 PM @paperhurts Ever consider becoming a negotiator for crisis situations? You’d have a unique take on it I bet