Police: Man who threatened DOT worker with gun owns three AR-15s

Stonington — The North Stonington man whom police charged Tuesday with pointing a handgun at a state Department of Transportation employee last summer owns 15 guns, including three AR-15s and two guns that were not registered, according to records.

Details about the guns and the case against Kyle Colechia, 24, of 272 Pendleton Hill Road, who was taken into custody at Electric Boat in Groton late Tuesday morning, are contained in the affidavit police filed for his arrest warrant.

Colechia was charged with first-degree reckless endangerment, first-degree threatening and breach of peace in connection with the Aug. 28, 2017, incident. He later was released on a $10,000 bond.

Police said they seized firearms that belong to Colechia and he had to surrender his pistol permit.

According to the affidavit, the DOT worker told police he had positioned a truck with flashing strobe lights across the exit of the Stop and Shop supermarket to stop vehicles from driving on freshly laid asphalt on Route 49. He said a blue Volkswagen Golf or GTI hatchback with tinted windows, loud exhaust and no front license plate then tried to pull around the truck. He and a flagger began gesturing and yelling for the car to stop.

The car then stopped and its engine stalled. The driver — whom the DOT worker described as white, in his twenties, between 5 feet 4 inches and 5 feet 6 inches tall, with a medium build and wearing some sort of employee badge with a gold emblem attached to his brown T-shirt — got out of the car, slammed the door and went under the hood. He restarted his car but then got back out and walked toward the DOT worker, calling him a “(expletive) retard” who would “do nothing but lay pavement the rest of his life,” according to the affidavit.

The DOT worker said he then told the man to get back in his car and “get the (expletive) out of here.” The man told the DOT worker to not come at him. The DOT worker said he was not coming at him and told him to “just get the (expletive) out of here.”

He said the man then got back in the car, reached to his right side and then raised his right hand. At this point, the DOT worker stated he was about 25 feet from the front of the car. He said that as he looked at the man through the windshield, the man pointed what appeared to be a Springfield XDS handgun at him. He said he made eye contact with the man and then reached for his phone to call 911. The DOT worker then tried to get to the rear of the car so he could get the car’s license plate number. The DOT worker said the driver then laid the handgun on the dashboard pointed in his direction. The driver put the car in reverse and drove off toward the nearby McDonald’s, according to the affidavit.

Officer Jeffrey Hewes, who investigated the case and wrote the affidavit, said the DOT worker was visibly shaken while talking to police. He told police that while he regularly deals with people upset about traffic, no one had ever pulled a gun on him.

The DOT worker told police he was able to identify the handgun because he has a pistol permit and has fired that model gun with friends who own them.

On Oct. 19, 2017, the DOT worker told police he was working on a paving job on Interstate 95 and driving a state DOT truck north from Exit 90 in Mystic when he saw a car that matched the description of the one the man with the gun was driving two months earlier. He said he moved to the middle lane and was side by side with the Volkswagen. He said he then looked through the Volkswagen’s passenger side window and noticed the driver looked “very similar” to the man who he said threatened him with the gun. He said the driver of the Volkswagen looked back at him and began to speed away. The DOT employee was able to get the car’s license plate number before the car began cutting back and forth through traffic.

Police said the car registration came back to Colechia, and his license photograph and physical description matched the one given of him by the DOT worker.

Police then conducted a weapons check on Colechia and found he owns 12 registered firearms, including the Springfield XDS 9 mm handgun. Among the other guns were three 12-gauge shotguns, four handguns and three AR-15s.

Colechia was allowed to own the AR-15 under an exemption for military members in the state’s 5-year-old assault weapons ban. Colechia is a National Guard member.

Police contacted Colechia on Nov. 6, 2017, and asked him to come to headquarters to talk about the incident. He agreed but did not appear until Jan. 14 of this year, despite numerous attempts by police to contact him.

He initially told police he did not recall the incident but after being told about the time and place and basic details, he told police he remembered stopping for a drink at McDonald’s and then trying to leave the Stop and Shop to turn onto Route 49 to go home. He said there had been an altercation with a bigger man wearing a reflective vest who was waving a 3-foot-long pipe.

Colechia denied having a gun with him that day and told police he only owned a Glock 19 handgun and an AR-15 he built himself. He said he only carried a firearm twice since getting a permit, as he works at Electric Boat, where he said employees are not allowed to have firearms on the property, and he is usually either going to or from work. Hewes wrote in his affidavit that Electric Boat employee badges have a gold Electric Boat logo on them, which is consistent with what the DOT worker said the driver who pointed the gun at him had attached to his T-shirt.

Colechia told police that the DOT worker was “within arm’s reach” during the argument. He said the DOT worker criticized him for being a “dumb ass” for trying to drive around the truck. Colechia said he yelled at the DOT worker to “put up an (expletive) sign.” Colechia said he got out of his car when it stalled, fixed it and backed up to McDonald’s.

The DOT worker denied having a pipe in his hand and did not recall holding anything until he pulled out his cellphone to call police. He said the only thing he could have been holding was a spray paint can to mark the pavement or a rolling stick to measure pavement distances.

In a follow-up interview, police asked Colechia why he originally told them he only owned two firearms. Colechia said that’s because he only keeps two at his house and “the others don’t really show up on paperwork.” He said several of the other firearms on the list “were gone” after he sold them through private sales.

He said he sold the Springfield XDS in December 2017. A complete list of the guns seized by police was not immediately available Thursday.

j.wojtas@theday.com

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