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Norwich police say violent threats prompted search where bombs, assault weapons found

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Norwich — A Greeneville man’s alleged aggressive behavior and threats of violence during a confrontation with a roommate and a witness and subsequent arrest Sunday afternoon prompted police to seek a search and seizure warrant that led to the discovery of a cache of high-powered weapons, ammunition, two “live” pipe bombs and weapon-making materials.

According to police arrest reports filed at Norwich Superior Court, Andrew Cook, 57, of 165 Prospect St. appeared intoxicated, assaulted police and allegedly shouted at officers and two people identified as a victim and a witness in the initial confrontation, threatening that their “heads would be blown off.” Cook also allegedly threatened that he would burn the house to the ground.

Cook allegedly kicked officers repeatedly throughout the initial confrontation. When searched, a folding pocketknife was found in his coat pocket. But as Cook was being arrested, Norwich police Officer James Mastroianni was securing Cook’s property in the man’s bedroom and immediately recognized “tools consistent with Firearm and Ammunition manufacturing,” one police report stated.

The victim from the earlier confrontation also allegedly told Mastroianni that he had seen Cook shooting an “AK style assault rifle” in the building’s basement and had seen Cook in possession of part of a gun he believed Cook was manufacturing.

Police obtained a search and seizure warrant for Cook’s room and the basement. A police records check also revealed that Cook had been convicted in 2002 of illegal possession of explosives and illegal weapon possession, and in 2008 for illegal weapon possession.

Cook faces multiple charges stemming from both the initial confrontation and the weapons charges, including possession of an assault weapon, manufacture of bombs and illegal possession of explosives. He was arraigned virtually Monday in Norwich Superior Court and appeared in court virtually again Tuesday from a hospital bed. The police report said Cook had been transported from police headquarters to Backus Hospital after he complained of alcohol withdrawal. The court set his bond at $175,000 and police said he is being held at Corrigan Correctional Center in Montville.

In his report describing the search of the home, Detective Scott Meikle said officers found a bag in the closet containing two PVC pipe bombs later found to be live. Norwich police called the state police bomb technician to detonate the two live bombs. A third pipe bomb was found partially completed, containing similar gunpowder and shrapnel.

Police also allegedly found a “fully-loaded and functional” AR-15 assault rifle hidden in a drawer beneath the bed. Attached to the AR-15 were two loaded 30-round magazines. Three additional 30-round magazines were found loaded on the bedroom floor. Police found that the serial number on the AR-15 had been removed and the space refinished and painted over.

On one workbench, police allegedly found a lower receiver portion of an AR-15, also with the serial number removed and the spot replaced with “an image of a person holding up the middle finger with the words ‘Here’s your serial number,’” Meikle wrote.

Police also reported finding hundreds of rounds of ammunition and empty shell casings, gunpowder and body armor.

Police Sgt. Avery Marsh, Norwich police detective division supervisor, said he could not release further information about the arrest, because the investigation is ongoing.

The house at 165 Prospect St. is a two-story, vinyl-sided house listed in the city tax records as a single-family home but described in the police reports as a boarding house. The house is owned by Doris and Conrad Hamel. Reached by phone Tuesday evening, Doris Hamel said she has not been at the house and referred questions to her husband. Conrad Hamel could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

In the initial confrontation Sunday, police said Cook called police at 3:16 p.m. to complain that a person later described in the reports as “Victim #1,” was trying to get into the house and did not live there. When police arrived, police said Cook did not identify himself and appeared intoxicated. Police departed “due to the uncooperative complainant.”

Police returned about 35 minutes later after a 911 call that two people were in a loud argument in front of the house. That victim, Cook’s housemate, told police Cook had changed the front door keypad. The victim climbed in through an unlocked porch window. The victim showed police his key to an individual room he rented on the second floor.

Police said Cook accused the victim and a witness of being drug addicts and Cook allegedly made an aggressive move toward them and turned his aggression toward police when they tried to stop him. Police reported they forced him to the floor and handcuffed Cook after he allegedly refused to take his right hand out of his pocket. Police said they found the folding pocketknife in the pocket.

c.bessette@theday.com

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