Police charge man with firing shotgun in spat

James Patrick O'Brien
James Patrick O’Brien

NAUGATUCK — A 50-year-old borough man was arrested late Wednesday after witnesses told police he fired a shotgun from his home upon seeing his roommate outside, then yelled from a window that the man would be “next.”

James Patrick O’Brien, 50, of 114 Celentano Drive, is being held in lieu of $100,000 bond after police charged him with weapons-related crimes and threatening. Police were called to O’Brien’s home about 8:30 p.m. after a neighbor told them O’Brien had fired off a shot.

Officers “tactically” parked their cars in front of O’Brien’s home, finding the lights were shut off. O’Brien walked out a short time later and was detained, according to police.

Inside the home, police found a 12-gauge shotgun in a closet, along with a bandolier of extra shotgun shells. A spent shell was later found on the couch, according to police.

Police later learned that O’Brien’s roommate had moved out Wednesday. The ex-roommate arrived at O’Brien’s home late Wednesday to find that his motorcycle had been placed in the middle of the street. When he started to move bike, the roommate told police he heard a gunshot and saw O’Brien hanging out of a window with a gun shouting that he was next.

Another witness told an officer a similar version of events, police said.

O’Brien told police he had been drinking with friends, but he initially denied being the triggerman, saying he had thrown a firecracker out of his window.

Police can test a person’s hands for gunpowder residue to help them determine whether a suspect was holding a recently fired gun. Officers let O’Brien use the bathroom while he was in custody, but they warned him not to wash his hands, police reported.

After O’Brien used the commode, they reported he tried to dunk his hands in the water “in an attempt to hinder our investigation.”

O’Brien eventually admitted to firing the gun after they drove him back to police headquarters, officers reported.

O’Brien was arraigned Thursday in Waterbury Superior Court, where prosecutor Elena Palermo requested he be held on a six-figure bond.

“He could have killed somebody,” she said.

O’Brien was charged with first-degree reckless endangerment, second-degree threatening, breach of peace, carrying a firearm while under the influence and unlawful discharge of a firearm.

He was ordered to stay away from his roommate and to surrender his guns. He’s due back in court on Aug. 11.