Willimantic officer shooting leads to tense moments for town
By Melanie Savage - Staff Writer
Willimantic - posted Mon., Jul. 1, 2013
At approximately 11:15 a.m., on June 25, the Willimantic Police Department was dispatched to a residence located at 31 Tunxis Lane, Willimantic. The call requested that an officer conduct a well-being check on an individual who lives at the residence. Neighbors reportedly became concerned after they hadn’t seen the home’s occupant, John Samuolis, in quite some time. A neighbor also reported seeing a large number of flies near a window of the residence.
Officer Kevin Winkler entered the home via a window and was shot in the arm by a male subject. The subject, later identified as 34-year-old Andrew Samuolis, then fled the scene on foot. Officer Winkler called for assistance at the scene, and was transported to the Windham Hospital emergency room, where he was admitted with non-life-threatening injuries.
Samuolis fled into the surrounding neighborhood, and then into an adjacent wooded area. Willimantic Police gave chase, and the State Police were called in for assistance. State Troopers from Troop C and Troop K, as well as off-duty troopers and State Police detectives, responded to the area. Also assisting were officers from Norwich, Coventry, Putnam, Hartford, Eastern Connecticut State University, Plainfield, Groton City Police and UConn.
A perimeter was established and the State Police Helicopter Trooper 1 was deployed, as well as several Connecticut State Police K-9 teams. Samuolis was observed in the neighborhood and an exchange of gunfire between the suspect and police took place. Samuolis continued to flee and was located by a State Police K-9 in the area of the IGA Supermarket on Route 32. He was taken into custody by State Troopers with the assistance of the K-9 units. Samuolis was transported to Windham Hospital for treatment of a minor K-9 wound.
A subsequent search of 31 Tunxis Lane revealed a deceased male, which was later determined to be John Samuolis, Andrew’s father. According to police, Samuolis admitted to killing his father in February, and living in the home with the body.
Samuolis was arraigned in Danielson Superior Court on June 26. The charges were breach of peace and interfering with police. His bail was set at $1,000,000. As of press time, State Police were reporting no additional charges against Samuolis, who was scheduled to return to court on July 26.
Andrew Samuolis was described by neighbors as a young man who has suffered from mental issues all his life, who has been living on Social Security disability payments. His father was reportedly retired and in his 60s at the time of his death.
On June 28, Officer Winkler was saluted by his fellow officers as he left Windham Hospital with his arm in a sling. According to Willimantic Chief Lisa Maruzo-Balduc, Winkler is 30 years old and has been with the department for six years. He left the hospital on the arm of his wife, Liz.
“We are very pleased that he has been released from the hospital,” said Maruzo-Balduc. “We are all praying and hoping for no permanent damage. It has been a very difficult week in Willimantic, but walking the officer out of the hospital has been the very best moment of the week.”