Crime & Punishment: Connecticut's Least Responsible Fake Gun Owners

Connecticut's Least Responsible Gun Owners: Kevin Merchant reported a handgun had gone missing from his Hartford home and he has no idea where it is. Merchant should particularly know the importance of securing firearms; he is a police officer in Springfield, Mass. The gun, for which Hartford police are still searching, was his service weapon, reports The Republican, a Springfield newspaper. Meanwhile, Shawn French of Waterbury and his friend spent an afternoon firing blanks from a .22 caliber handgun, "taking turns pointing [it] at each other and pulling the trigger," reports WFSB. The weapon was holding a bit of live ammunition, and French, 22, wound up shooting and killing his friend, according to police. (He briefly tried to maintain a story about mistaking the longtime friend for a burglar, police say.) A police spokesperson called the incident "senseless and preventable."

Connecticut's Least Responsible Fake Gun Owners: A few days after Halloween, Central Connecticut State University student David Kyem came to campus still in his costume, the ninja-like G.I. Joe character Snake Eyes. He wore camouflage pants, a tactical vest, a mask and a plastic sword and handgun. Responding to several 911 calls, police put the New Britain school on lockdown. The Hartford Courant reports that students huddled in classrooms as officers in SWAT gear filed through the school. In the end, Kyem, 21, was charged with breach of peace. Police also recently surrounded the GameStop store in Fairfield on reports of a masked gunman. The man, it turned out, was hired by the store to promote Call of Duty: Ghosts and was dressed like the game's main character, an elite military operative, reports WFSB. His "guns" were toys.

Three days after Bill Tinsley was elected first selectman of Brookfield, the Danbury News-Times discovered he was facing charges of larceny for allegedly stealing money from a Vermont beer store where he once worked. Tinsley, 62, had been retired and spending winters in the ski town of Ludlow where he was a part-time cashier at Beerfest Beverage. The store's owners told police Tinsley took about $500 and tried to hide it by altering receipts and a computer log. Tinsley, now the chief public official of a town of 16,000, maintains his innocence, but plans to go back to Vermont and plead no contest. "The settlement will not affect my ability to serve," he told the News-Times, though he admitted, "It's an embarrassment."

Pike International manages several rental properties in New Haven. The company apparently has a strong respect for its renters' privacy, to the point where it will let them die and decompose undisturbed in their apartments for weeks. The Hartford Courant reports that residents of a building near Yale called Pike at least twice about a "mold smell." "Since the day I moved in there was like a weird smell," said one resident. "I asked Pike when I first moved in, and they said they couldn't really do anything." An on-site manager had the floors cleaned and scheduled an exterminator. When he couldn't make contact with a resident, he called firefighters who found the man's corpse. Coroners estimate he had been dead for at least a month.

People Gettin' Ready to Party: Marilyn Sweatt pushed a shopping cart filled with a whopping $775 worth of unpaid-for food and beer out of a Stop and Shop in Middletown, police told the Middletown Press. And perhaps looking to keep up with the 20-something dark-haired woman spotted on surveillance footage with him, 48-year-old Jose Bulerin allegedly shoplifted eleven boxes of condoms from the Stop and Shop in Monroe, according to the Monroe Patch website.

A Fairfield man was hurting from the theft of his $1,800 custom bicycle when a friend told him he spotted what he thought was the rather distinct bike for sale on eBay. The original owner e-mailed the seller and agreed to meet him and buy the bike, reports the Fairfield Citizen. He then contacted Fairfield police, who rolled into their agreed meeting place, a Dunkin Donuts parking lot, and picked up the seller, 21-year-old Kevin Jones of Farmington, for the theft of the bicycle.

Darin C. Hanna was arrested on charges of hunting while intoxicated in Tolland. Police told the Hartford Courant they were monitoring a treestand under which someone had spread corn and apples (an illegal form of baiting) and found Hanna, 48, up in it, utilizing archery equipment and carrying a handgun while wasted.

A Fairfield police officer stopped a car driven by Wallace E. Stovall for lack of a front license plate. The officer found a stash of clothing in the vehicle, which Stovall, 54, admitted he had taken from a charity drop box outside a shopping plaza, police told the Fairfield Citizen.

Officer John L. Abely of the Branford Police Department cuffed a 22-year-old woman on charges of littering, according to the Branford Patch website. She even has a court date at which the public can see that justice is done.

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