Attempted burglary in borough linked to drugs

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WATERBURY — An attempted armed burglary in Naugatuck appears to have been touched off by a cocaine deal that went south after a Waterbury man was robbed while passing off baking soda as balls of drugs.

The arrest of 18-year-old Joshua Petro came as the result of a Naugatuck police investigation that was touched off after two armed men tried to get inside a home on Hoadley Street in November. A fight ensued and Petro was charged with criminal possession of a firearm and possession of narcotics with intent to sell.

But police learned that fight stemmed from a drug deal gone bad on Burr Street in Waterbury on Nov. 22. During that violent incident, police learned that Jauquille Cooper, 22, arranged to sell drugs to a man he knew as “Josh.” Petro had arranged to buy four balls of cocaine, but Cooper filled the order with baking soda instead. But by that point, Petro and another man were already planning to rob him, Petro told police.

A man police later identified as Petro pulled up to do the deal in his Mercedes-Benz, but after Cooper climbed inside, Petro pulled a handgun on him, a witness told police. Cooper grabbed the gun, but was hit with a bottle, which split his head open, a witness told police.

Cooper escaped the car during the struggle, but lost the “drugs.” Cooper then drove to a Naugatuck home where Petro was staying later that evening. Police suspect he tried to force his way into the home while he was armed, but a fight broke out and police wound up arresting Petro and Cooper that night.

Police later recovered a .22-caliber handgun from the home of Petro’s girlfriend who was in the car at the time of the robbery, according to Petro’s arrest warrant.

Petro, who has remained jailed since the Naugatuck incident, was charged with first-degree robbery, larceny and firearms charges. He is also suspected of stealing a black bag from his father’s pickup truck in the city’s Bunker Hill neighborhood about two weeks before the robbery.

Petro is being held on bonds totaling about $750,000 and is due in Waterbury Superior Court in January.