New Britain Officers Fire On Car, Killing Driver, Because He Drove Right At Them, Police Say

New Britain police officers attempting to stop a vehicle linked to a series of violent carjackings and street robberies on Thursday fired their weapons several times at the three occupants as the driver “drove the vehicle directly towards the officers,” according to state police reports released Friday.

The 20-year-old driver — whom police did not identify Friday — was killed and a 15-year-old passenger was shot in the leg, police said. Another passenger, Noah Young, 18, of Bloomfield, was hospitalized with “graze wounds” and released into police custody.

As Young’s family wept in the courtroom on Friday, a Superior Court judge ordered him held on $1 million bond on drug charges linked to the fatal shooting Thursday night. In dismissing Young’s request to go free until trial, though, Judge Joan Alexander noted that the investigation is still underway and that Young was wanted on two warrants charging him with driving a car without permission and driving without a license.

Several of Young’s relatives gasped or cried when Alexander said he would remain jailed until Jan. 10, and a man who identified himself as Young’s father angrily stormed out of the courtroom.

New Britain police said they saw the youths in the vehicle at Chapman Street and Chapman Court at 6:41 p.m. on Thursday. That vehicle — a teal-colored 1996 Toyota Paseo with New Hampshire plates — had been used in a recent rash of carjackings and street robberies n and around the city, police said.

“It began about two weeks ago with people driving up in cars and brandishing guns,” New Britain police Chief James Wardwell said on Friday. “This week it went beyond that. One person was shot at and there was a pistol-whipping.”

Wardwell had deployed extra officers as an anti-robbery patrol this week, but it’s not clear if those officers were involved in the Thursday evening gunfire.

An arrest warrant affidavit charging Young with drug crimes provided some details of what police said happened before the fatal shooting.

Police were looking for the Toyota Paseo because surveillance video showed it had been used by carjackers who attacked two people in a car on Kelsey Street on Monday. One attacker carried a gun and demanded that the victims get out of the car, then shot at them — hitting the trunk — when the driver sped off instead, according to the report by state police Trooper James McGlynn.

On Thursday evening, at about 6:30, officers saw the Toyota near Newington Avenue and Chapman Street and began following it. Several police cars converged on the car when the driver braked for a stop sign at Chapman Street and Chapman Court, police said.

“The operator of the Toyota attempted to flee the area and in so doing struck some of the police vehicles in an attempt to elude the police,” McGlynn wrote. “Fearing for their safety, New Britain police personnel shot several rounds from their duty weapons at the Toyota, striking the front two occupants.”

The driver was shot in the neck and was pronounced dead at St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center. The 15-year-old, who also was not named, was shot in the leg and treated at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center in Hartford. Police said he had several bullets and a small amount of suspected heroin in his pants.

Police said they found a pistol on the Toyota’s floor.

The 15-year-old has been charged with carrying a weapon in a motor vehicle, possessing a pistol without a permit and possessing narcotics.

Police searching Young found three bundles of what they suspected was heroin. McGlynn said that when, Young was questioned, he said he and the 15-year-old were hanging out on Albany Avenue in Hartford when the Toyota approached them. The driver was an acquaintance who invited them to go for a ride and get high, McGlynn reported.

They smoked marijuana and drank cognac, then bought heroin on the street in New Britain, according to Young’s statement. The driver told his passengers they were being followed by police, and tried to escape after officers began hitting the Toyota with patrol cars, according to Young.

“As they were trying to drive away, the police began shooting at their vehicle and both the operator and the juvenile were struck by the gunfire,” according to Young's account to police.

Young said he knew nothing of a gun in the car or the recent robberies, police said. Young was charged with possessing heroin, possessing heroin with intent to sell and risk of injury to a minor.

Wardwell said late Thursday night that more than one officer fired at the vehicle, but as of Friday state police did not disclose how many officers were involved or how many shots were fired.

Investigators continued to gather evidence Friday at the scene.

Detectives from the state police major crime squad set up a command post outside Chamberlain School, which was closed for the day because its parking lot is considered part of the crime scene.

Wardwell said that his department would do “an administrative investigation” but that it “takes a back seat to the Connecticut state police investigation.”

Under state law, any shooting that involves an officer firing a gun is turned over to the state police and the state’s attorney, Mayor Erin Stewart said. The officers involved were immediately placed on paid administrative leave, she said.

Middlesex County State’s Attorney Peter McShane will oversee the investigation.

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