By Andreas Yilma Register Citizen
NAUGATUCK — The community is showing overwhelming support to Naugatuck police officer Lt. Mark Pettinicchi after a pair of fleeing larceny suspects slammed their car into the officer at a construction site.
Pettinicchi, 47, a 19-year veteran of the Naugatuck Police Department, suffered a shattered left ankle, a fractured right tibia and a fractured right ankle from the hit and run on South Main Street as a man and woman fled from a reported larceny on Nov. 4.
Naugatuck Police Detective Sgt. Derek Poundstone, with the help of some others, organized a GoFundMe on Monday to assist with the officer’s care. The page had a goal of $10,000, but the community has raised more than $21,000 as of Thursday.
Manny Pinho, who is an administrator of the Facebook page, “Naugy Strong,” said he wanted to do something for the community and took an active lead to promote it on the group’s page.
Park Commission Chairman Linda “Gigi” Ramos and Deb Deptula, who are both administrators of the 10,000 member Facebook group “What’s Happening in Naugatuck,” are co-hosting and sponsoring with a local coffee shop, The Loaded Goat, a “Coffee for an Officer” fundraiser at the cafe on Nov. 20 from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Tickets will be available for purchase at the cafe on the day of the event. There will be a raffle and all funds will be given to the family, according to Ramos.
Deputy Police Chief Colin McAllister has visited Pettinicchi in the hospital and said Pettinicchi, who is married with children, expressed gratitude to the community for everything they’re doing.
McAllister said borough officers have received plenty of in person thanks and expressions of gratitude, including an anonymous $200 gift card to DeRocco’s Wiches Bagels and Brew.
“It reminds them of why they’re proud to be Naugatuck police officers and how a hardship or difficulty like this really pulls the community together,” McAllister said.
Pettinicchi has had two surgeries so far and is continuing the reconstructive surgery phase. It’s to be determined how many more surgeries he will need, according to McAllister.
“He has a long road ahead of him,” McAllister said. “Something we continue to evaluate.”
The whole ordeal began at about 4 p.m. when police responded to Walmart at 1100 New Haven Road, to investigate a shoplifting. A police officer got to the store as a shoplifting suspect, identified as 49-year-old Francis Ibell, attempted to get into a gray Honda Ridgeline waiting in the are of 1081 New Haven Road. An officer caught Ibell after a quick foot chase, according to police.
The driver of the Ridgeline was identified as Stanton Ragar Trent, 29, of New Haven. He and his passenger, Asia Shynise Paulin, 25, of Waterbury, fled north on New Haven Road.
Once the car approached the construction zone in the area of 561 South Main St., police said Trent ignored signals to stop from Pettinicchi, who was working private duty, and sped up and hit the officer. Witnesses and police described the act as intentional.
Pettinicchi called for assistance on his radio, which ensued in pursuit of the car by several police agencies. The chase started on Route 8 to Waterbury, to Wolcott, then back through Waterbury and Route 8. The pursuit ended on Interstate 84 westbound in Middlebury between exits 17 and 16, just east of the South Street Bridge overpass. The pair of suspects was arrested after Trent pulled over, police said.
McAllister said the two threw $14,000 in cash, 412 bags of heroin, 11 grams of cocaine and a loaded .380 pistol from the Honda during the chase. He said some items, including the gun, were recovered in Wolcott and others were seized on I-84 where Trent pulled over. He said officers are investigating the gun’s origins.
Police charged Trent with first-degree robbery, first-degree assault, second-degree reckless endangerment, reckless driving, engaging police in pursuit, carrying a pistol without a permit, weapon in a motor vehicle and sixth-degree larceny.
Police charged Paulin with carrying a pistol without a permit and two counts of conspiracy at possession with intent to sell.
Police charged Ibell with first-degree robbery, sixth-degree larceny, interfering with an officer and possession of narcotics.
All three were arraigned in Superior Court in Waterbury, where Trent’s bond was set at $1 million.