Teen drives stolen Audi into Naugatuck cruiser, one injured

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A damaged Naugatuck police cruiser is parked after it was struck by a juvenile driving a stolen vehicle Tuesday. Contributed

By Andreas Yilma Citizen’s News

NAUGATUCK — A Naugatuck police officer was taken to a hospital with injuries to her arm and leg Tuesday after a borough teen stole an out-of-town vehicle and crashed it into her police cruiser, police said Wednesday.

Police arrested the 15-year-old boy on charges of first-degree criminal attempt to commit assault, first-degree larceny by possession, assault on a police officer, interfering with an officer, evading responsibility, reckless driving and operating without a license.

Officer Hailey Zarzuela was taken by Naugatuck EMS to Waterbury Hospital, where she was released Tuesday night, Naugatuck Police Chief Colin McAllister said Wednesday at a news conference.

“As a department, we are thankful officer Zarzuela’s injuries were minor, as the in-car videos showed how quickly the incident unfolded,” McAllister said.

Police began to investigate a report of a stolen 2019 Audi A5 on Tuesday afternoon after the Audi company notified police the car was sending out a ping in the borough location. The investigation led police to a commercial trucking parking lot at 50 Elm St. at about 4:30 p.m. As one officer drove up to the stolen car, it fled.

When Zarzuela pulled into the lot, the Audi emerged from a row of bushes and struck her cruiser. Debris from the impact struck pedestrians walking in the area, but they were not injured, McAllister said.

Naugatuck Deputy Police Chief C. Colin McAllister speaks during a news conference at the Naugatuck Police Department. Archive

The suspect continued driving toward downtown, eventually abandoning the stolen car in a commercial parking lot on Water Street. The juvenile then fled on foot before being arrested by responding officers near the YMCA on Church Street, McAllister said.

The suspect is familiar to borough police and other agencies, but McAllister declined to elaborate.

Borough officers worked in collaboration with the Waterbury State’s Attorney Office to secure an “order to detain” for the juvenile, who was taken to Bridgeport Juvenile Detention Court before he appeared at Waterbury Juvenile Court on Wednesday, McAllister said.

McAllister commended officers, detectives and dispatchers, who worked as a team to quickly establish a perimeter, apprehend the suspect and transition into an investigative role to process the scene.

The Audi was determined stolen from Avon on Monday night, the news release states. Many high-end and luxury vehicles are equipped with a newer form of anti-theft technology, which results in a ping or signal being sent regarding the vehicle’s location, McAllister noted.

“It’s a very small group of individuals who are responsible for a large number of these car thefts,” he said. “(They) are brazen to take these kinds of steps and don’t have any regard for our law enforcement officers, as well as the public at large.”