The death of Andrew Chapo earlier this month brought back memories of the most tragic July 4th in Westport’s history.
Around 2 a.m. that morning in 1961 Brendan McLaughlin — a former Marine working as a New York advertising executive — shot and killed his father during a family argument.
The murder took place in the McLaughlins’ old Victorian house on Gorham Island — the site today of a 40,000-square foot office building.
McLaughlin fled. An hour before dawn he burst into the police station on Jesup Road. He pulled out a semi-automatic pistol and fired at 2 policemen behind the front desk, wounding Donald Bennette.
Officers chased him into the parking lot, where he shot Chapo. A shootout ensued; McLaughlin was wounded.
Chapo and Bennette recovered. McLaughlin died several weeks later.
The police station lobby was renovated in 1988. Mindful of the July 4th tragedy, greater security measures were installed.
Chapo achieved the rank of lieutenant. While on the force, he helped gain improved pension benefits for police officers.
A memorial service for Chapo is set for July 10 (United Methodist Church, 2 p.m.) — almost 48 years to the day after his awful Independence Day.
(Thanks to Woody Klein’s Westport, Connecticut history for some of the information in this post.)