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Norwich man charged with firing rifle at police officer

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Norwich — A Norwich man was held on a $1 million bond after police said he shot at a Norwich police cruiser at least seven times Tuesday night, narrowly missing an officer who was responding to the area of Westwood Park for reports of shots fired.

Andrew O'Lone, 28, appeared in Norwich Superior Court on Wednesday, following a manhunt the day before that police said ended in his surrender at his 123 Westwood Park home.

O'Lone appeared before Judge Kevin Murphy around 11:30 a.m., and he was put on a mental health watch. His case is being transferred to Part A in New London, and he is next scheduled to appear in court on Nov. 8.

Norwich police said the responding officer returned fire but neither the officer nor O'Lone was shot. State police said the New London Judicial District will investigate the officer-involved shooting.

Police charged O'Lone with criminal attempt at murder, criminal attempt at first-degree assault, assault on a police officer, possession of an assault weapon, possession of a high-capacity magazine, first-degree criminal mischief and second-degree criminal mischief. Police said he doesn't have a valid pistol permit from any jurisdiction.

In a news release sent at 3:27 a.m. Wednesday, police said there "is no danger to the public at this time," and in a 1:54 p.m. release added there is "no reason to believe there are any more suspects or co-conspirators."

Norwich officers were dispatched to 9 Westwood Park around 9:56 p.m. Tuesday to investigate a report of shots fired, police said. The caller said she'd heard four shots and saw a man in dark clothing coming from the woods.

Police said the responding officer, whose name is redacted in the report, was driving south on Dunham Street when someone in dark clothing coming out of the woods fired multiple shots at the officer's marked police cruiser, striking the vehicle several times. The officer returned fire, and the suspect ran off.

On Tuesday night, police could be seen walking an officer from a cruiser into an ambulance.

Norwich police Lt. Christopher Merrill said Wednesday morning the officer had "just some scrapes and bruises from exiting the cruiser" and there were no injuries to the suspect. The police report released later in the day said the officer "sustained minor abrasion type injuries to his elbows, knees, and pain to his right hip as a result of this incident." The officer was taken to Backus Hospital in Norwich and "released a short time later."

The police report said the responding officer's body camera footage showed the officer crouching down "in an attempt to avoid being struck by gunfire that was penetrating through the front windshield into the passenger compartment of the vehicle."

Police said numerous bullets hit the front windshield within inches of the driver's seat. While attempting to put the vehicle in park, the officer "fell out of the moving cruiser, regained his balance, and returned fire at the accused."

Merrill also said no injuries resulted from the original report of shots fired.

Other officers from the Norwich Police Department, Connecticut State Police and other local departments arrived to assist. Police said two Norwich officers found an assault-style rifle and numerous shell casings on Dunham Street near Stanley Place.

The police report said that around 10:45 p.m., Norwich police dispatch received a call from a Maryland resident identifying herself as O'Lone's mother. She said O'Lone called her to say he had "shot at police," was at his apartment and "wants to turn himself in." She provided dispatchers with her son's phone number.

Norwich police said one of their detectives made contact with the Howard County Police Department in Maryland, which obtained a signed, sworn statement from the mother.

A Connecticut State Police sergeant called the number the mother provided, and O'Lone was cooperative and said he was willing to surrender, the police report said. O'Lone "walked out of 123 Westwood Park and was taken into custody without incident." Two other Norwich officers took O'Lone to police headquarters.

Police said in the interview room, O'Lone invoked his rights to an attorney before a detective could read him his Miranda rights, and the interview was terminated.

Police find bullet holes, review surveillance footage

According to the police report, the responding officer's cruiser had at least seven apparent bullet holes, most in the front windshield toward the driver's seat. An SUV belonging to a Dunham Street resident also was hit by gunfire, behind the rear passenger door.

The Connecticut State Police Eastern District Major Crime Squad arrived to assist with processing the crime scene and collecting evidence. Investigators found an assault rifle-type firearm, multiple .223 shell casings and several .40 caliber shell casings.

Merrill said the firearm was an AR-15-type rifle.

Westwood Park is a Norwich Housing Authority facility, and authority Executive Director Jeffrey Arn said Wednesday morning, "We're just cooperating with the police as much as possible. They've been looking at our surveillance cameras."

He said two staff members came in Tuesday night to assist with the footage. Arn said he was reassured by police saying there was no danger to the public, and he wouldn't have had his staff come in to the office Wednesday if there was.

Police said surveillance cameras showed a man matching O'Lone's description walking from the area of his apartment toward Elizabeth Street Extension around 9:51 p.m. He was observed passing the NHA office wearing a jacket and carrying an object "consistent with a rifle," but at 10:09 p.m., he walked past the office with no jacket and no rifle.

O'Lone entered the apartment around 10:10 p.m., police said, and was taken into custody about 11:24 p.m.

The investigation is ongoing, and witnesses are urged to call Norwich police Detective Richard Cannata at (860) 886-5561, ext. 3138.

By late morning Wednesday, the Connecticut State Police Eastern District Major Crime van still sat at Westwood Park and Elizabeth Street Extension, but not many state police and Norwich officers remained on scene. Southeast Area Transit District buses made their way through the complex on the blustery morning.

Westwood Park resident Pam Patterson said she was outside Tuesday night bringing in some things so they wouldn't blow away in the wind when she heard the gunshots, so she went inside and called police. She said it was such rapid fire, she could tell an automatic weapon was involved.

"It's hard to tell where the shots are coming from because it echoes off the brick buildings," she said. She added, "I stayed in the house where I belonged."

Day Staff Writer Kimberly Drelich and Photographer Sean D. Elliot contributed to this report.

e.moser@theday.com

Editor's Note: This article previously said O'Lone is next scheduled to appear in court Nov. 17, but the date has since been moved up.

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