NEW BRITAIN — The 19-year-old city man who allegedly ran over a New Britain police officer with a car Sunday, seriously injuring him, has been extradited to Connecticut after being caught in Vermont Wednesday.
New Britain Police Chief James Wardwell said Jaheem Snype was taken into custody about 8 p.m. Wednesday at an apartment in Barton, Vt., about 15 miles south of the Canadian border. He was held without bail as a fugitive from justice and appeared in Orleans Criminal Court in Barton on Thursday, according to the court clerk’s office.
Snype waived extradition and was taken into custody by Connecticut authorities, the clerk said Thursday afternoon. He will be arraigned Friday in Superior Court in New Britain on charges of attempted murder, first-degree assault, assault on a police officer and theft of the car he allegedly used to strike, run over and drag Officer Brett Morgan, Wardwell said.
Snype’s half-brother Frankie Gonzalez, who lives in Vermont, also was arrested and was extradited to Connecticut Thursday afternoon to face charges of hindering prosecution and tampering with evidence, Wardwell said.
“The New Britain Police Department has worked around the clock on this,” Wardwell said at a news conference Wednesday night.
The arrest is a first step in holding Snype accountable “for violently attacking and so horribly injuring Officer Brett Morgan,” Wardwell said.
“This was a vicious attack, a senseless attack on a fine officer,” Wardwell said, flanked by about 35 officers and detectives. The entire department had worked the case around the clock, Wardwell said.
A massive manhunt had been underway since Sunday night, when the 28-year-old officer was badly injured while investigating a stolen car complaint. Morgan had spotted the car and was approaching it to check it when, according to police, the car — driven by Snype — ran him down and dragged him about 100 feet.
Wardwell said police had been chasing a variety of leads, some of which led them to Vermont. New Britain police began working with Vermont State Police, and on Tuesday four New Britain officers headed to Vermont. The U.S. Marshals Service, the FBI, the U.S. Border Patrol and the Vermont National Guard all were involved in the search, according to the Vermont State Police.
At a family member’s house in Stannard, Vt., police found Gonzalez, 23, who confessed to his own involvement, after the fact, in Sunday’s crime, police said. He also told police they could find Snype at a friend’s home in nearby Barton, Vt.
Police obtained a search warrant from Vermont authorities, and then went to the Barton apartment and took Snype into custody. He gave up without a fight, Wardwell said.
Wardwell said police do not know if Snype was trying to make it to Canada. “He was certainly trying to flee the state of Connecticut,” Wardwell said.
Morgan has undergone two surgeries, including a 9-hour operation on Monday, to begin to repair the traumatic injuries he suffered. He remains in intensive care at a Hartford hospital, Wardwell said. He was on a ventilator until Tuesday and is now conscious but still sedated, Wardwell said.
“He continues to improve and is doing as well as can be expected,” Wardwell said. More surgeries are expected, he said.
Police appealed to the public for help in finding Snype and fielded many tips. Wardwell said Wednesday night that those tips were helpful.
Police had urged people not to approach Snype because they regarded him as dangerous. “He’s already shown extreme indifference to human life,” Wardwell said.
Morgan joined the New Britain Police Department last year. He worked as a police officer in Northampton, Mass., for two years before joining the New Britain department.
“There’s been a very large outpouring of public support,” he said. “I know the entire New Britain police department and Officer Morgan’s family are very appreciative of that.”
“The people of the city can sleep a bit easier tonight knowing Jaheem Snype has been apprehended,” said Mayor Erin Stewart.
The New Britain department and the police union have started a fund to help Morgan’s family deal with expenses they expect to arise.
The Brett Morgan Benefit Fund is being hosted by TD Bank. People who want to donate can go to any TD Bank branch and make a contribution in care of Robert Martin of the New Britain Police Department. Checks payable to the Brett Morgan Benefit Fund also can sent to the New Britain Police Department, Brett Morgan Benefit Fund, 10 Chestnut St., New Britain CT, 06051.
By David Owens and Don Stacom, Hartford Courant