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    Thursday, February 02, 2023

    Norwich man charged in sub base stabbing

    Hartford - A Norwich man appeared briefly in U.S. District Court on Friday to be charged formally for his role in the Thursday night incident at the U.S. Naval Submarine Base in Groton that left two civilian police officers injured.

    Gary Ray Brunache, 35, was charged with assault of a federal officer and assault with a dangerous weapon with intent to do bodily harm within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States.

    U.S. Magistrate Judge Donna F. Martinez informed Brunache of his rights, including the right to remain silent and the right to the assistance of public counsel.

    When asked whether he understood those rights, Brunache, a slender man wearing a red and navy windbreaker, answered, "Yes."

    Martinez scheduled a detention hearing for noon on Wednesday, at which it would be decided whether Brunache would remain in federal detention or be released on bond.

    Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Leaming will represent the federal government. Brunache will be represented by federal defender Deirdre Murray.

    At 7:16 p.m. Thursday, emergency dispatch was informed of an officer-involved shooting in the Building 500 parking lot area near the main gate of the submarine base, on Crystal Lake Road in Groton, according to an affidavit prepared by Naval Criminal Investigative Service Special Agent Daniel Brewer.

    The security force at the base comprises Navy civilian police officers and qualified sailors, most of which are in the master-at-arms rating, according to a statement from Chris Zendan, spokesman for the base. Zendan wrote in an email that there were three members of the security force directly involved in last night's incident. The three were Navy civilian police officers.

    The affidavit said Brunache approached the three officers outside building 500 and attacked Department of Defense officers Brian McCarthy and William Kephart with a knife.

    Brunache started swinging the knife at McCarthy and failed to comply when told to drop his weapon.

    Kephart responded by spraying Brunache with pepper spray. Brunache then used the knife to stab Kephart in his right thigh, the affidavit said.

    McCarthy fired about three rounds from his service pistol at Brunache as Brunache was trying to stab Kephart.

    Brunache was not hit by the rounds. The affidavit does not name another officer who was injured by ricocheting bullets.

    Groton police took Brunache to Lawrence + Memorial Hospital for treatment for being hit with pepper spray. From the hospital, NCIS personnel took him to their New London office for an interview.

    There, Brunache waived his rights and said he walked from Norwich to the base to see his brother. He said he was confronted by police at the main gate and became agitated when they would not let him in.

    According to Zendan, an initial review of personnel rosters does not indicate a "Brunache" currently working on the sub base.

    Brunache admitted attacking the officers with a knife, the affidavit said.

    The charge of assault of a federal officer carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years, and the charge of assault with a dangerous weapon with intent to do bodily harm within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the U.S. carries a maximum sentence of 10 years.

    State court records show that a Norwich resident named Gary Brunache, born in 1979, served 45 days in prison in 2009 for first-degree criminal trespass and second-degree stalking in New London. He has a second conviction for first-degree criminal trespass in New London for which he received a suspended sentence and two years of probation. He also has two convictions for violation of probation, one in 2009 and one in 2010.

    Brunache's Facebook page says he works at Mohegan Sun, but a spokesperson for the casino said he last worked there in 2002 as a table games dealer.

    Groton and state police also responded to the incident. Groton officer Rich Sawyer said the department's "only involvement was for mutual aid. We didn't transport anyone here to our facility. We just responded for mutual aid."

    Trooper Kelly Grant said state police were there to "assist the federal agents."

    The matter also is being investigated by NCIS, the FBI, Connecticut State Police and the Norwich police.

    In an email, Zendan wrote, "As a matter of long-standing policy, we do not comment on the standard procedures, responses and protocols of security at Naval Submarine Base New London. The response of the Navy civilian police officers involved in the incident will be examined as part of the ongoing investigation."

    The case is being prosecuted by assistant U.S. attorneys Brian P. Leaming and Robert M. Spector.

    Day staff writer Karen Florin contributed to this report.

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