Journal Inquirer, Manchester, Conn.
MANCHESTER — A loss prevention officer shot by a shoplifter at Buckland Hills Mall on Friday sustained serious injuries to several internal organs, leaving him in critical condition, and he will require further surgery to repair the damage, according to a police affidavit about the incident.
Police said the officer, Tirsol Polanco, 27, was struggling for a gun with Windsor resident Richard LaPlante, when LaPlante pressed the gun into the officer’s abdomen and fired.
LaPlante turned himself in to police Saturday night and appeared in Manchester Superior Court Monday on charges of attempted murder, first-degree assault, first-degree robbery, and carrying a pistol without a permit.
Police set his bond at $1 million upon his arrest, and a judge maintained that bond on a recommendation from Manchester prosecutor Casey Flynn.
Flynn said LaPlante is facing “extremely serious allegations that may become more serious as time goes on.”
The affidavit supporting LaPlante’s arrest provides the following details:
Police responded to the Macy’s at the mall shortly after noon Friday in response to the shooting and provided medical aid to the loss prevention officer, who was transported to the hospital. They spoke with a second officer, who had witnessed the shooting.
He and the other officer saw LaPlante shoplifting and approached him, the officer told police.
LaPlante pulled out a small silver handgun, which his co-worker attempted to take away. LaPlante fired the gun during the struggle and fled the scene, the officer said.
Police noted that the officer’s shirt showed evidence of a close range gunshot in the form of burn markings.
Police reviewed surveillance video from the area, which showed LaPlante running across the parking lot toward the Fairfield Inn, where he stopped and hid behind a Dumpster for a short time, before walking out of the camera’s view.
Police searched the area near the Dumpster and found a handgun wrapped in a bundle of fabric. The ammunition in the gun was the same brand, color, and caliber as the casing found at the scene of the shooting. Additionally, a small piece of gray fabric found struck in the gun’s receiver was matched to the officer’s shirt.
Police distributed images from the surveillance video to CT Transit, which determined that LaPlante boarded a bus heading to the mall at 10:52 a.m., and then boarded a bus traveling back to Windsor around 1 p.m.
Police distributed the images to Windsor police, who identified LaPlante as a suspect.
Police traveled to his address. LaPlante wasn’t there, but his father was present and allowed police to search his son’s bedroom.
They immediately found the shirt that LaPlante was wearing at the mall, a unique dark blue jersey connected to a local basketball team.
LaPlante’s father also identified his son in a photograph taken from the surveillance video.
For breaking news and happenings in North Central Connecticut, follow Matthew Knox on Twitter: @MatthewPKnoxJI, and Facebook: Matthew P. Knox JI.
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