Police: Man threatened to shoot CT Stop & Shop strikers with AK-47
On the eve of the ninth day of the Stop & Shop workers strike, a man called a Wethersfield Stop & Shop and threatened to “shoot them (strikers) with an AK-47” when he learned they were still on strike, according to police.
The Stop & Shop on the Berlin Turnpike in Wethersfield was evacuated Thursday after the store received the threat.
Wethersfield police said the man made the call around 6 p.m. Police got a call from the store manager of the store to report the suspicious call.
“An unidentified male subject called the store and asked if the employees were still picketing in front of the store,” police said. “After the manager stated that the employees were still in front of the store, the male stated he was coming to the store to shoot them with an AK-47.”
All the employees outside were brought into the store, which was closed to the public.
“We are aware of the situation that occurred earlier at our Wethersfield store ... We closed the store out of an abundance of caution for our customers and associates, and we are co-operating with local police,” said Jennifer Brogan, Stop & Shop's director of external communications, in a statement.
Several Wethersfield police units responded and remained on scene for about an hour. There were no injuries or acts of violence reported after the call, police said.
Detectives are continuing to investigate. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Wethersfield Police Department at 860-721-2901.
Union leaders express gratitude to Wethersfield police for their quick response.
Vice President of Union 919 Michael Calderon was at the rally in Dorchester, but came straight to the Wethersfield store when he heard about the threat.
“I’m here to just check on the lines to make sure my people are safe,” Calderon told Fox 61. “We are trying to fight for the lives of the people that work in the stores so this is our lives please don’t do this to us no need for this.”
The threat came hours after former Vice President Joe Biden attended a rally of hundreds of Stop & Shop workers. Biden spoke at the gathering of unionized Stop & Shop employees outside a store in Boston's Dorchester neighborhood.
The 76-year-old Biden, mulling a run for the Democratic nomination for president, said workers at the supermarket chain are “not being treated across the board with dignity.”
“We've got to start recognizing what people do, because it matters to everybody,” Biden said. “It matters whether or not they feel respected. And I'm sick and tired, I'm sick and tired, of the way we're not being treated.”
In a video, WFCW Connecticut Union President Mark Espinosa said Stop & Shop is trying to break the union.
“I have never seen your employer take such an anti-union stance,” he said. “They feel the pressure. They know that you guys are out there and they are now trying to coerce you, divide you. They want to see if they can bring you back into the store without a contract.”
Both sides were expected to return to the bargaining table Friday morning.
In a statement, Stop & Shop said, “Negotiations are continuing with the five UFCW local unions. Our primary goal remains to get our associates back to work with a contract that has pay increases for all associates, continued health benefits for eligible associates and increased pension contributions. We remain focused on getting back to fully serving our customers every day.”
Lisa Backus and Tara O’Neill contributed to this story.