Willimantic standoff, robbery suspect known to police - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Willimantic standoff, robbery suspect known to police

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Police closed Gem Drive overnight following a standoff. (WFSB photo) Police closed Gem Drive overnight following a standoff. (WFSB photo)
The home in which police believed the suspect had barricaded himself. (WFSB photo) The home in which police believed the suspect had barricaded himself. (WFSB photo)

Willimantic police are searching for a man they said robbed two women at gun point and was then involved in a standoff.

Police said they were called to the scene at about 10:30 p.m. Sunday, when the robbery was first reported.

The women were allegedly robbed at the corner of Gem Drive and Roanoak Avenue. Neither were hurt, but an unknown amount of money was forcibly taken, according to police. They reported that the suspect had a gun.

Officers received information that the suspect went into a home at 45 Gem Dr. after being chased by the women.

Police said they arrived 90 seconds after they received a 911 call. Neighbors were told to shelter in place and the road was closed while police set up a perimeter.

“I heard a loud banging at the door at 2:00 in the morning," said Bonnie Jones, a Gem Drive resident. "The police were here and said not to leave the house, that the neighborhood is being confined.”

A number of homes were also evacuated.

Willimantic SWAT was also called to the scene at 10:30 p.m. and contact was made with the suspect, police said.

According to officers, they were able to make contact with the suspect through a telephone. They said they quickly determined that he was someone they've dealt with before.

"We were in phone contact with the gentleman we were looking for, he hung up on us," said Cpl. Stan Parizo, Jr., Willimantic police.

However, the suspect denied being inside the home and said he was in several different towns during the phone conversations he had with negotiators.

Police obtained a search warrant and entered the home around 5:30 a.m. on Monday. The suspect was not found. They said they knew he went into the house and assumed he stayed even after he claimed he left.

"We're in the process of clearing the evacuation, letting people know who live on Gem Drive that they can return to their homes safely," Parizo said. "We did have some people on the outskirts here on Roanoak Avenue stay in place."

Police gave the "all clear" around 6:30 a.m. have since reopened Gem Drive. Residents were allowed to exit or return to their homes.

"For me, I was pretty scared, my husband works third shift," Jones said.

Brenda Ingles, a neighbor, said she may have slept through the incident, but said she'll be sure to lock her doors in the future.

"I'm in shock because this is a very, very quiet neighborhood," she said.

A search of the home at 45 Gem Dr. did turn up a handgun. Investigators are working to figure out if it was the same one used in the robbery.

Police said they are interviewing the two women involved in the incident. They also said they have been in touch with the suspect and urged him to turn himself in.

"This is an ongoing and fluent investigation," said Alex Coriaty, detective division commander, Willimantic police. "We are looking into witness accounts as well as interviewing the females who were involved. Anyone with information about this incident is being asked to contact the Willimantic Police Department. All information will be kept confidential.” 

Police stressed that the neighborhood is safe.

The identity of the suspect has not been released.

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