Police praise man for reporting his own thoughts of hurting children

Hope he gets help, but say arrest was warranted by statements he made

Police Wednesday gave credit to a man they arrested after he called them last month to report that he was having thoughts about harming school children.

Joseph-Russo-booking-photo

Joseph Russo

Joseph Russo, 44, of Longview Avenue, was arrested Nov. 25, charged with first-degree threatening and threatening an act of terrorism.

The arrest comes after Russo called police to a Post Road address around 11:30 p.m. Oct. 27, saying that he was having thoughts about hurting elementary school children. He told officers he wanted help and did not want to carry through with his ideas.

“We commend him for that. In the end, our goal is to help this guy,” Deputy Chief Chris Lyddy said.

“Our hope is to get this individual the help he needs,” Chief Gary MacNamara said.

Russo was initially taken to St. Vincent’s Medical Center for evaluation. He remained there during the investigation, and police said he posed no threat to the general public.

At the same time, police pursued a warrant for his arrest based on statements he made to them.

“You can’t report to the police that you have thoughts of harming children without a police response,” Lyddy said.

“An arrest in this case is a mechanism to bring an individual to the criminal justice system,” he added. “Someone who poses a threat to the public belongs in the criminal justice system.”

Roger Sherman Elementary School was the site Russo thought about because he frequently rides his bike past it, Lyddy said.

Police said they determined that Russo had previously made similar threats to others that he wanted to take students hostage to traumatize them.

With regard to the count of threatening an act of terrorism, “It’s the appropriate charge based on the comments he made,” Lyddy said.

Russo told police he had been having such thoughts for more than a year, Lyddy said.

The arrest comes a little more than two weeks before the first anniversary of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, in which 20 children and six adult staff members at the school were killed.

“It happened when it happened,” Lyddy said of the proximity in the calendar.

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