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Double stabbing under investigation in Essex

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Essex — State police were outside the historical Griswold Inn on Main Street and a nearby gas station Monday night investigating a double stabbing.

State police said in a news release that troopers were called to Main Street in Essex about 8:30 p.m., and the stabbing occurred at the Bestway Sunoco gas station at 1 Saybrook Road. Two people were taken to area hospitals for treatment, and their identities and conditions were unavailable.

Shortly after 10 p.m., officers had strung yellow crime scene tape across Main Street as revelers continued to sing sea chanties inside the historical inn.

Enoch Panzera, who was at the Griswold Inn, said he parked about 50 yards from the restaurant Monday evening, and as he was about to leave his car, a car sped by. He said as he approached the entrance to the Griswold Inn, he saw two people on the street — a woman sobbing and a white man bleeding.

Panzera's companion, Marissa Nardone, said she was crossing the street toward the restaurant when a severely damaged car drove up the street from the riverfront area. She said the car came to a stop in front of the inn, and a white man got out with blood dripping down his face and fell on the ground.

When the incident occurred, the performers for the evening, who had been leading people in sea chanties, stopped the event to say something had happened outside. The singing resumed shortly thereafter, according to people inside the bar.

Seven police cars were parked at the Sunoco gas station on Saybrook Road across from the Essex Steam Train station, with yellow crime scene caution tape blocking the gas station entrance.

On Tuesday, Kevin Shendge, the gas station/convenience store employee who was working at the time of the altercation Monday evening, said he witnessed a fight between a white man and a Black man. The apparent girlfriend of the white man tried to defuse the situation, Shendge said, but it didn’t work. He said he was never threatened during the incident and didn’t see a knife or witness a stabbing.

Shendge said he believed all three people were coming from the Griswold Inn, where they’d already been in a fight in the street outside the restaurant. It was not clear if they had been inside the inn.

“They started fighting again here; they threw a couple punches right in front of my door,” Shendge said. “The white guy was trying to come inside, but the Black guy jumped outside and beat him a couple times. The white guy’s girlfriend came in between everything trying to calm things down.”

The couple was preparing to leave, Shendge said, when the white man apparently said something to the Black man, who was pumping gas.

“The Black guy took the nozzle and sprayed gas all over the white guy’s body. Then the white guy was pissed,” Shendge said, adding that more punches were thrown before both parties eventually left the scene.

Shendge added that multiple regular customers have called since learning of the incident to see if he’s OK.

Police said in a news release that they are searching for a suspect whose photo was captured via security camera. The suspect entered a dark-colored, newer model Alfa Romeo Stelvio, for which state police are also looking. Anyone with information is asked to contact Detective Derek McGregor of the Central District Major Crime Squad at Derek.McGregor@ct.gov or (860) 883-0928.

s.spinella@theday.com

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