FARMINGTON, CT (WFSB) - A Farmington police officer was struck by the driver of a stolen car early Monday morning.
According to police, officers responded to a report of an active theft in the area of 1 Talcott Notch Rd. at approximately 12:50 a.m.
Police said someone was after a catalytic converter.
"We had a witness who believed there was a catalytic converter theft in progress," said Lt. Tim McKenzie, Farmington police.
Upon arrival, officers said they located the suspect vehicle and attempted to contact its occupant. They also tried to block the suspect. However, the suspect managed to pin Officer James O'Donnell between O'Donnell's vehicle and the suspect's vehicle.
The suspect was able to get away.
Additional officers pursued the vehicle over a short distance and the driver crashed into the woods where the suspect or suspects fled on foot.
Multiple K9 teams searched the area for whoever was in the vehicle but were unable to locate them.
O'Donnell was transported to St. Francis Hospital in Hartford by ambulance. Police said he sustained serious non-life-threatening injuries, which were described as multiple broken bones. The officer continued to recover from surgery on Tuesday. Police said he will need a lengthy rehabilitation to fully recovery.
"The outpouring of support from the law enforcement community, Farmington Town Council, Farmington Board of Education, and community members, has been overwhelming and deeply touched our hearts," Farmington police said in a statement. "The Farmington Police Department and the O'Donnell family cannot begin to express our gratitude for all of your compassion.
His family asked for privacy.
"It's really sad," said Anna Hance, a resident. "I don't know why they would have to take it as far as hurting someone. Like, it's just ridiculous especially around here. Everyone is so nice. And we just want to live and walk our dogs."
Hance said she lives in a nearby condominium complex. She said she and her neighbors were left worried on Monday that the area would become a hotspot for theft.
"I'm shocked," she said. "Because a lot of times I go out late a night to walk Chaz. And it's really quiet, really safe. And a little surprised that no one tried to steal the converters around here yet, but I was hoping it wouldn't happen."
Police determined that the vehicle the suspect had been driving was stolen out of Middletown. However, it's unclear of the suspect was alone or if another person was involved.
Others who live in the area said they are surprised to hear what had happened.
"It’s very shocking and surprising to hear something like that. Really. It’s sad. It’s sad," said Watuzi Rios, of Farmington.
The group Safe Streets is expected to rally outside of the Farmington Police Department on Monday afternoon. Their mission is to bring safety back to Connecticut communities.
Any witnesses or anyone with any information was asked to contact the Farmington Police Department at 860-675-2400