Since August of 2007, the Norwich Police Department has received approximately 80 complaint calls involving disturbances at the Frederic J. Sullivan VFW Post 2212, in the Taftville Section of Norwich. It was a call to police in the early morning hours of January 17 that captured the attention of state VFW officials.
Complaints of loud music and fights have prompted the most frequent calls to Norwich police, but two weeks ago, an incident with a gun, following a fight outside of the 76-year-old post, was the final straw for neighbors.
“I look outside and a guy goes into his car and grabs a gun. And, he’s holding it up in the air and I’m like oh my god,” said Gary Pizzo, who lives directly across the street from the VFW, which is located in an otherwise exclusively residential neighborhood.
“As he took it (the gun) out of the car, he chambered a bullet and he’s like waving his gun. I got away from the window and went downstairs, explained Pizzo. I’m like we’ve got to call 911 because ours girls bedroom is right there.”
“The worst part of it was the young man that was arrested came back, either two or three nights later, and was let into the club,” said Dolores Labonte, who has lived across Pratt Avenue from the Post 2212 for nearly 50 years. She believes problems have become more prevalent because the Post allows non-members.
Pizzo’s wife and Labonte contacted state VFW officials about a week ago.
“Certainly, when we saw that, there was no other determination than to put them into suspension, said Ronald Rusakiewicz, State Adjutant/Quartermaster. We certainly couldn’t live with that.”
State VFW Commander, Robert Froelick shut down the Post, for at least 30 days, effective last Thursday, January 30. There will be a meeting to review the suspension February 17.
Pizzo and his wife, who have lived with their two daughters on Pratte Avenue for four years, say they will put their home up for sale if Post 2212 reopens
“We have to. It wouldn’t be so bad if we didn’t have kids,” added Pizzo
Both Pizzo and Labonte have had their cars hit by VFW patrons. Another neighbor, who declined to be interviewed on camera, says he has even found syringes and bullet casings in the road in front of of his home.