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Man who hid in courthouse removed by police

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State police said they extricated a 24-year-old man from the New London Judicial District courthouse Friday evening after he barricaded himself in a hearing room while holding a young girl in front of him.

The man, whose identity has not been released, had gone to the Huntington Street courthouse earlier in the day to apply for a restraining order, according to a news release from Rhonda Stearley-Hebert, manager of external affairs for the Judicial Branch.

He appears to have hidden himself, and two children, as judicial marshals locked up the building for the day at about 2:30 p.m. The courthouse is operating on an abbreviated schedule due to the coronavirus.

State police said they were contacted by the New London Fire Department at 5:25 p.m., after responding to the courthouse for a fire alarm and discovering an open door.

When they arrived, state police said fire personnel reported seeing a man who closed the door and locked himself in a room. Additional troopers and New London police officers arrived and set up a perimeter, while a building maintenance supervisor let troopers into locked areas.

While clearing the building, the troopers located the man, who was holding the girl in front of him in a hearing room in the old section of the building. Troopers were able to remove him and the juvenile safely.

Computers had been pushed to the floor in the hearing room, and flooring in the area was damaged. Pins had been pulled from fire extinguishers in the building and fire alarms pulled in various areas of the building.

A second child was found near the back door of the courthouse while troopers were sweeping the building, according to a news release from state police at Troop E in Montville.

The man was taken to Lawrence + Memorial Hospital for a psychiatric evaluation, and the children were placed in a safe setting. State police are preparing a warrant for his arrest.

The state police investigation is continuing, and the Judicial Branch is conducting an internal review.

k.florin@theday.com

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