Man charged after telling cops he feared he would harm school children
A Longview Avenue man, tormented by long-term thoughts he harbored about harming local school children -- including taking them hostage -- was arrested Tuesday after alerting police last month that he might act on those urges.
Joseph Russo, 44, was charged on a warrant following his release from St. Vincent's Medical Center in Bridgeport with first-degree threatening and threatening an act of terrorism. He was held on a $75,000 bond.
Police said the public was not in danger during their investigation because an emergency committal of Russo at the hospital on Oct. 27, when he initially contacted police about his fears. He remained there while police conducted the investigation.
Russo told police "disturbing details of his intent to harm students at one of our elementary schools," a release from police stated.
That school was Roger Sherman Elementary School, and parents of its students were notified about the threat investigation on Oct. 28 and again when Russo was arrested.
"Russo detailed he had thought this for years" -- regarding possibly inflicting harm, police said
Russo contacted police seeking help so that he wouldn't act on his inclinations, police Sgt. Suzanne Lussier said. They determined Russo posed "a significant and potential danger to others" and the emergency committal was made.
Russo does not have any children, police said, nor does he own any registered weapons.
During the followup investigation, police determined Russo had previously made similar threats to others that "he wanted to take students hostage to traumatize them," but those threats were not conveyed to police at the time they were made, Lussier said.
"This was the first we learned of it," Lussier said, "when he called the police."
In 2012, Russo's parents called police for assistance because they were concerned about an indiviual their son was spending time with, and because of his "diminished mental capacity."
"Our hope is to work wiht the courts to get this individual the help that he needs, that's what's important," MacNamara said Wednesday.
Police officials worked with St. Vincent's during Russo's stay to prepare him for the arrest, Lyddy said. "Our job is two fold -- one is you can't report to police you have thoughts of harming children in our community and not expect to be arrested; second, and most important, we have an obligation to ensure that an individual with these problems re-integrates into society the safest way possible. The criminal justice system has the mechanism at their disposal."
Lyddy said police don't know why Russo decided to contact them when he did. "Our goal is to help the individual, but we know, and you know that people that commit terrible crimes leak information in almost every case, and there's nothing different here," Lyddy said. "He leaked information consistent with cases we've seen across the country."
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