The man arrested for having a pellet gun near President Barack Obama's motorcade route insisted to police that his actions had nothing to do with the presidential visit.
According to the Bloomfield Police Department, a police detective from Simsbury was monitoring traffic near the intersection of Central Avenue and Cottage Grove Road and said he heard noises from the rear of 7 Central Ave. that sounded like someone was hiding in the woods.
Upon searching the area, a man, later identified as Joseph Stravinskas, 27, was found in the rear yard with what appeared to be a rifle with a scope aiming at cans propped up at targets.
The officer said he told Stravinskas to drop the weapon, which was a pellet gun with a scope, at which time Stravinskas turned and dropped his aim.
But not the weapon and that resulted in Stravinskas instead aiming the weapon at police.
Stravinskas ultimately complied and was arrested.
Police said he told them that he is homeless and had been staying at 7 Central Ave.
Stravinskas's lawyer told Eyewitness News that he was visiting a friend's house Monday and knew the motorcade had passed by, but didn't realize it would be coming back.
"Honestly, we were so unaware," said friend Brandon Hightower. "I was in the house playing video games to be quite frank."
Police told Eyewitness News they have no reason to believe this target practice had anything to do with the president's visit.
However, it caused enough commotion for them to file charges.
"You can't take any precaution when it comes to presidential security, so we understand why police had to investigate," his attorney Corey Brinson said. "But, once the police learned the president wasn't in the vicinity, that my client was shooting at soda cans, which they confirmed in the report, that should have been the end of it."
Stravinskas was charged with breach of peace, threatening and
interfering with a police officer and appeared in Hartford Superior
Court Tuesday afternoon.
In court, Eyewitness News learned that Stravinskas was convicted of simple assault, DUI, sixth-degree larceny and second-degree failure to appear in Vermont.
The judge said she took the multi-state history of charges and violations of probation into consideration when setting Stravinskas's bond at $50,000. He remained in prison Tuesday night.
"The secret service interviewed him thoroughly and if they're not concerned about it, they didn't take him into custody," Brinson said. "The state of Connecticut shouldn't be either."
Brinson told Eyewitness News that he will ask for the charges to be dismissed.
"The whole thing will be ironed out with the proceedings of the court room," said Hightower, who attended his friend's arraignment. "He's a nice, guy. I trust him. It was a misunderstanding."
Neighbors told Eyewitness News that they have never seen anyone shooting pellet guns in their neighborhood.
"There was no overreaction because how do you know what it is? That's a chance your taking," said Norma Hughes of Bloomfield. "And that's the president, you don't play."
Obama was in Connecticut late Monday afternoon to talk about federal gun control measures in the wake of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown in December.
Copyright 2013 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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