Reports of gunfire in borough unfounded

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A police dog searches for evidence after a call came in about shots fired near the 7-Eleven on Rubber Avenue in Naugatuck Wednesday morning. –RA ARCHIVE

NAUGATUCK — Reports of gunshots in the borough Wednesday morning sent two schools into lockdown. But, after a police investigation, it was determined no shots had been fired.

Police responded after 11 a.m. to reports of gunshots in the area of the 7-Eleven on Rubber Avenue. When they arrived, they spotted a man sprinting from the area toward Mountview Plaza, said Lt. Bob Allen of the Naugatuck Police Department. The man was detained while police investigated.

Officials placed two area schools, Naugatuck High School and Western Elementary School, on lockdown for 45 minutes while the investigation proceeded.

The man stopped running when police asked, and responded to their questions, Lt. Robert Harrison said. He told police he was coming from a friend’s house and was trying to catch the bus outside the grocery.

“There was a bus there at the same time,” Allen said. “His story checked out.”

The borough’s only K-9 tracking team, Officer Ian Kosky and his German shepherd, Vane, were at court in Waterbury, so another team was brought in to sniff the detained man’s path for a dropped gun, Allen said.

No gun was found, nor was any evidence that shots had been fired, and police declared the reports unfounded.

Employees of businesses in the area said the noises could have been fireworks, a car accident or a car backfiring.

Allen noted the noises occurred in the area of several auto shops.

“It was probably a backfire,” Allen said.

Edward Bozenski, director of security at Naugatuck High School, said he was standing with Officer Charles Schofield, the school’s resource officer, when they heard the police activity over the scanner.

They decided to place the school on “Code Yellow” lockdown, meaning movement would be allowed within the school, but no one could enter or exit, Bozenski said.

Bozenski notified the elementary school, which followed the same procedure.

“We don’t want to put anybody in harm’s way by having somebody go outside if somebody dangerous could be in the area,” Bozenski said.

Some students, mostly seniors, who get dismissed early were not allowed to leave the building Wednesday, but apart from that school was not disrupted, Bozenski said.

“We did get a few phone calls from parents who heard things on the news,” Bozenski said.