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Manhunt ends in Winsted

WINSTED — A two-day manhunt for a man who allegedly shot at state police troopers in Florida ended early Wednesday morning when the suspect was apprehended near a home on Roosevelt Trail, just east of Highland Lake.

Brody James Whitaker, 37, was charged as a fugitive from justice in connection with an incident in March, in which he allegedly shot at two state troopers at a traffic stop in Florida and engaged troopers in a chase that ended in a crash.

Whitaker was caught unarmed and uninjured after jumping from a second-floor window at 339 Roosevelt Trail and attempting to flee into the woods. Two females, 27-year-old Stefania Dalessio of Mount Washington, Mass., and 34-year-old Yvonne Clark of Fenton, Mich., were also arrested Tuesday night and charged with aiding the suspect. Two males, 28-year-old Jason Collins of 339 Roosevelt Trail and 54-year-old Francis Collins of Sutton, N.H., were arrested Wednesday at Jason Collins’ home, where Whitaker had been hiding.

The hunt for Whitaker grew to full intensity Tuesday afternoon, as dozens of uniformed, undercover and special operations officers descended on the town in search of the alleged perpetrator. The U.S. Marshal Service had developed information determining the suspect could be in Winsted and local authorities were contacted.

Winchester Police Chief Nicholas Guerriero said Wednesday that between 50 and 60 officers were involved in the manhunt, including fully camouflaged state police tactical team officers, who surrounded the area around 339 Roosevelt Trail.

Guerriero said the actual apprehension of Whitaker was made by state police tactical officers and that several different types of surveillance had been used to locate the suspect, including cellphone tracking.

Winsted Town Hall was the staging area Tuesday for federal marshals, state troopers and Winsted police, who coordinated the investigation. Environmental police, undercover officers, ATF and SWAT teams were seen in and around Town Hall throughout the day as troopers and local police set up a perimeter around the town. Guerriero established the command post at Town Hall, where officers organized a detailed plan for containment and apprehension of the suspect.

Guerriero said Tuesday evening that he could not confirm reports that an armed and dangerous male was in Winchester and being pursued by police.

As it turned out, police had already determined the suspect’s location.

“We didn’t give out information because we felt there was no immediate threat to public safety,” the chief said Wednesday. “The last thing we wanted to do was get information out and let people know we were on to him. There was constant surveillance being done. We knew he was in the house and that area was cordoned off. We wanted to make sure he didn’t sneak out of there.”

With a state police helicopter and plane circling overhead, at least 25 police vehicles sped up Lake Street toward Winchester at approximately 9 p.m. Tuesday night, stopping between Platt Hill Road and Laurel Way. Guerriero said the two female suspects, Dalessio and Clark, were arrested there. Both were charged with interfering with police and hindering prosecution. Troopers, K9 units and unmarked vehicles had been deployed to the area and state police turned news reporters away.

“Once we had the two women contained we wanted to stop [the suspect] in Winsted,” Guerriero said.

At approximately 5:45 a.m. at Roosevelt Trail, Whitaker was seen jumping from a second-story window and attempting to run into the woods. He was immediately apprehended and was transported to state police Troop L. Whitaker was charged as a fugitive from justice and for carrying drug paraphernalia.

During the day Tuesday, there was a heavy police presence in the parking lot of Northwestern Connecticut Community College’s Joyner Learning Center, as well as at and around Town Hall and along Route 183. Unmarked vehicles included a Humvee and black pickup truck, which patrolled up and down Main Street and Route 183. Several undercover officers were seen in and around Town Hall, along with officers dressed in full camouflage.

“We had tremendous cooperation from state and federal marshals, and we used our own guys, who did a great job,” Guerriero said Wednesday morning. All five suspects were held on bond to appear at Litchfield Superior Court. Police said no additional arrests are anticipated, but additional charges may be filed pending a complete investigation.

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