Sandy Hook responder found dead in Naugatuck cemetery

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The front of Holy Savior Polish National Cemetery at 819 New Haven Rd. can be seen on Tuesday afternoon. Andreas Yilma Citizen’s News

By Andreas Yilma Citizen’s News

NAUGATUCK — A retired Newtown police sergeant, who responded in the wake of the Sandy Hook School shooting, was found dead Monday afternoon at a local graveyard.

Borough police identified the man as John Cole, 60, of Naugatuck.

Police were dispatched to Holy Saviour Polish National Catholic Cemetery at 819 New Haven Road just after 4 p.m. to investigate a report of an unresponsive person. Officers eventually found Cole, who was determined to be deceased, Naugatuck Police Public Information Officer Danielle Durette said.

“His death did not look suspicious in any manner,” Durette said.

John Cole, of Naugatuck. Contributed

Durette said she couldn’t comment on whether alcohol and drugs were a factor as his cause of death is being investigated by the state’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.

Cole was off-duty on the day of the Sandy Hook School shooting on Dec. 14, 2012, when a gunman killed 20 first-graders and six educators, but he responded to the scene in the hours after the shooting, Newtown Police Lt. Scott Smith said.

Cole had been a police officer with the department for 25 years, holding various roles during his career.

Cole joined the Patrol Division of the Newtown Police Department in 1989. He served as a patrol officer, temporary detective as well as being assigned to the Statewide Narcotics Task Force. He was later promoted to the rank of sergeant in 1999 and then appointed to detective sergeant in 2006, according to a Newtown Police Facebook post.

Cole, also known by his police family as “Johnny” or “JC,” retired from police service in 2014.

“He was well regarded as a caring and supportive supervisor and will be sincerely missed,” the Newtown Police Facebook post states. “We extend our deepest condolences to his family and all who knew him.”

Any witnesses to this incident are asked to contact Naugatuck Police at 203-729-221 or the NPD Confidential Tip Line at 203-720-1010.