The victim of a May 9 shooting in Lebanon told investigators that her friend, Army soldier Jason M. Durr, suffered a flashback to his deployment in Iraq and “freaked out” before shooting her in the chest.
Durr, 27, of 424 Kick Hill Road, made his first appearance today in the New London court where major crimes are tried. Judge Patrick J. Clifford appointed public defender Kevin Barrs to represent Durr. Barrs entered a not-guilty plea on Durr's behalf before continuing the case to June 7.
According to court documents, Durr used an assault rifle similar to an AR-15 to shoot his friend, 25-year-old Rachel Trombino of Westerly. She suffered a life-threatening wound and underwent emergency surgery at Hartford Hospital.
Trombino and Durr were in his basement apartment and were overheard arguing earlier in the night, according to an arrest warrant affidavit in the case. Both had been drinking.
Trombino, interviewed at the hospital hours after her surgery, was unable to speak, but communicated with detectives by writing. She said Durr “freaked out” and shot her after hearing a loud noise outside, getting a strange look in his eyes and having flashbacks of Iraq.
Durr called 911 at 1:10 a.m. to report the shooting. Upon arrival, troopers found him in the kitchen and the victim lying on Durr’s bed covered in blood. The troopers saw “numerous knives and edged weapons” on the kitchen table and counter, a Colt Match Target .223 caliber rifle on a living room couch, a pellet rifle near the kitchen door and rounds of ammunition throughout the apartment.
Durr, smelling of alcohol, was sobbing and disoriented, according to the affidavit. He said he didn’t know what happened to the woman and that he had recently ran out of the Xanax prescription he took for post traumatic stress disorder following a tour of duty in Iraq. Later, he gave a statement saying he has blacked out and fought with other friends, and he knows that whatever happened to Trombino was “done by his hands.”
David Nichols Jr., a friend who was at the apartment earlier that night, told detectives that Durr, who has been deployed twice to Afghanistan and Iraq, has had several violent episodes since his deployment, including one in which he tried to stab Nichols and others.
Durr, charged with attempted murder, first-degree assault and illegal possession of an assault weapon, is being held in lieu of $1 million bond at the Corrigan-Radgowski Correctional Center. He is on suicide and medical watch, according to his court file.