Rammed off the road by a car that had led police on a high speed pursuit from Old Saybrook into Westbrook earlier this month, state police Detective Scott Wisner was reaching for his handgun, which had fallen on the floor, when he was shot in the shoulder.
Wisner's unmarked, state-assigned Chevy Impala had come to rest at the bottom of an embankment on Route 153, within a few feet of a stolen Mercury Milan occupied by two men who had allegedly held a couple at gunpoint for hours at the Days Inn hotel.
"I felt pain in my left shoulder and knew I had been shot," Wisner later told a fellow state trooper who was investigating the incident. "I was still seat belted in my car and did not want to die."
Wisner, a 21-year veteran of the state police, said he sat up and returned fire immediately on the car.
Details of the April 8 incident involving Sebastian P. Award, 24, and Jonathan Alvarado, 24, both of Deep River, are contained in an arrest warrant affidavit that was unsealed Monday in Middlesex Superior Court.
State police Sgt. Keith Graham arrived at the scene and shot Alvarado, the suspected shooter, one time, after seeing Alvarado pick up a handgun that was within his reach, according to the affidavit. Police later recovered a .45 caliber Ruger Blackhawk revolver from the passenger area of the car.
By the time the gunfight was over, Alvarado had sustained multiple, fatal wounds. He was pronounced dead at the Shoreline Medical Center in Essex. Award was injured but alive. Wisner was rushed from the scene for treatment of a gunshot wound that went completely through his shoulder.
Wisner is recuperating, according to state police spokesman Lt. J. Paul Vance. As per department policy on trooper-involved shootings, Graham was placed on administrative duty while the Eastern District Major Crime Squad and the Middletown State's Attorney's office investigate.
Award recovered and was transferred to MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution in Suffield, where he is being held in lieu of $1.5 million bond on a long list of charges, including two counts each of attempted murder and kidnapping, and three counts of illegal possession of a pistol.
Represented by New Haven attorney William F. Dow, he has not yet entered a plea in the case and is due back in court May 14.
Interviewed by detectives at Hartford Hospital two days after the incident, Award told detectives he had pleaded with Alvarado to stop shooting because he didn't want to die, according to the affidavit.
"He (Award) said Alvarado said something like, 'I just shot a cop! So (expletive) it! I'm going out now!' '' according to the affidavit.
The incident began about 3:30 a.m., when Alvarado and Award invited a couple who were living at the Heritage Motor Inn to their room at the Days Inn to "hang out," according to the affidavit.
The female and male victim, whose names investigators withheld from the affidavit "for safety reasons," told police that Award pulled out a handgun shortly after they arrived at the room and continuously cocked and decocked the hammer. Alvarado produced a revolver and "emptied the bullets from his gun and quickly reloaded it with the bullets," according to the couple.
Knowing the male had recently received a cash settlement from a car accident, the female victim said Alvarado and Award told him they needed him to get the money out of his bank account in the morning. One of the men was facing a 14-year prison sentence, she said, and they planned to flee to Mexico. Disappointed that the man had only $15,000 in his bank account, Award and Alvarado told him he would also have to sell his car and give them the proceeds, according to the affidavit.
The men took their keys, wallets and cell phones and held the couple at gunpoint throughout the night, according to the affidavit. At one point, Award produced a stun gun and used it on the male victim, but it appeared to have "little effect," the female said. The men showed them a hatchet and a pile of trash bags and duct tape and told them not to force them to use them, she said.
At one point, a man called "C-Money," later identified as 24-year-old Corey Newhook of Chester, came to the room and "watched" the victims, according to the affidavit. Police said they are investigating his involvement in the case.
Award and the male victim left the room together to go to a car dealership, but the male escaped when Award returned to the room for a cigarette lighter, according to the affidavit. He went to a nearby room and told the occupant to call 911. The female victim said the men insisted she leave the room with them and they went to her car.
Old Saybrook police said the hotel manager called them at 2:42 p.m. for "an unknown situation." When they arrived, the manager pointed to a Mercury in the parking lot and said it was involved in the incident. Sgt. Donald Hull stopped the car in front of the hotel and had the female victim turn off the car and exit the vehicle, according to the affidavit.
Award moved into the driver's seat and restarted the engine, according to Hull, and Alvarado got into the passenger seat. Hull reached into the car and turned it off while ordering Award out of the car and sprayed both occupants with pepper spray. As the struggle continued, Award was able to drive away from the scene on Boston Post Road, and Hull suffered a minor hand injury, according to the affidavit.
Hull pursued the car and Patrolman Thanousinh Souriyamaith also followed the vehicle onto Route 153. Members of the state police, including Wisner, were notified of the pursuit and headed for Route 153, according to the affidavit. Wisner was headed north with his rear emergency lights activated when the two men drove up behind him in the Mercury, according to the affidavit.
The two cars collided, and both veered off the road, went down an embankment and struck several trees, according to the affidavit.
Following the shooting, the investigators obtained a search warrant for the Mercury Milan and seized a plastic file box containing a loaded Sterling .22 caliber pistol that had been stolen in Cromwell, numerous rounds of ammunition and an empty 20-round magazine for a 9mm pistol. They also found a stun gun outside the car.
In the hotel room, investigators recovered several more items, including a black pullover mask, a bulletproof vest, disposable gloves, duct tape, rolls of black plastic, three shovels, a machete-style sword and an unopened bottle of bleach.
On the ground near the crash scene, the police found an unloaded black powder .44 caliber revolver that they said Award, who denies shooting any weapons during the incidents, had admitted to taking from the hotel room.