Police: K-9 team nabs man after Stonington crime spree

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Stonington — Police say a Norwich K-9 team successfully apprehended a man who reportedly punched out a car window outside a Pawcatuck bar early Tuesday morning and then tried to force his way into a nearby apartment, leaving behind a trail of cocaine, ammunition, a handgun and clothing.

Police said the Norwich K-9 unit Officer Kenny Wright and his dog, Ozzy, tracked Darnell Bartha, 22, of 4 Wilderness Acres, Preston, through various areas around the bar before locating him bloodied, shirtless and without shoes in a nearby wooded area.

Bartha was charged with criminal attempt to commit home invasion, possession of a pistol without a permit, possession of narcotics, possession of narcotics with intent to sell, possession of a weapon in a motor vehicle, breach of peace, second-degree breach of peace, interfering with a police officer and second-degree threatening.

According to a Stonington police report, police said they received a call from an employee at the Handlebar Cafe on Route 1 that a man — who was described as being intoxicated, high on drugs and acting strange — had punched out a window of a car in the parking lot. The caller was concerned for the man’s welfare and feared he might return to the bar.

When police arrived, the man was gone and the employee said the man had suddenly begun acting aggressively in the bar. When she asked him to leave, he did. He then reportedly was seen punching the window of his car.

Police found the car in the lot with the passenger-side door open and the window punched out. They also found a loaded revolver in the car. The Norwich K-9 team started a track, which led into the woods across from the bar, where Wright and Ozzy found a small bag containing an empty holster, ammunition matching that found in the revolver and two small bags of cocaine, along with other items. A pair of sneakers also were found in the area.

Ozzy then tracked the man across Route 1 to Davis Standard, where the dog found a shirt that matched the description of the one the man was said to have been wearing. As the dog continued to track onto the high school property, police said they received a call from a resident of the Brookside Village apartment complex across the street. The caller said a man matching the description of the person police were tracking was now pounding on the caller's door and trying to force his way in.

The resident was able to push the door closed and the man fled into the woods. The K-9 team then was taken to Brookside, where police said Ozzy located Bartha unconscious and lying in the woods. His knuckles were bloody and he had no shirt on. Police took him into custody at 1:47 a.m. but once he was in the ambulance, he regained consciousness and police said he became physically and verbally abusive toward EMTs. He was transported by ambulance to Lawrence + Memorial Hospital with a police escort. Police said he continued to threaten them and EMTs and be uncooperative.

He later was released from the hospital and brought to the police station for booking. He was held overnight on a $50,000 bond and was arraigned in New London Superior Court on Tuesday. Police determined he did not have a pistol permit.

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