Photo Challenge #239

I thought last week’s Photo Challenge might have needed some detective work.

Lee Scharfstein’s image showed the outline of a bullet. Inside were the words “Bullet proof.”

It’s in the police station lobby. If you’ve ever bought a PAL fireworks ticket there, or gone for (ahem) some other reason, you might have seen it. It’s at the bottom of the heavy glass reception window, in the lobby.

Bobbie Herman, Diane Silfen, Rich Stein, Sharon Paulsen, Jonathan McClure, Andrew Colabella and Brooks Sumberg all knew exactly where that window is. Congratulations — may the force be with you!

The glass is bullet-proof for a reason.

On the morning of July 4, 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 that 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 officer Andrew 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.

Here’s this week’s Photo Challenge. If you know where in Westport you’d find this warning sign, click “Comments” below.

(Photo/Fred Cantor)

16 responses to “Photo Challenge #239

  1. Michael Calise

    Saugatuck Elementary

  2. Town hall in the back area

  3. Town hall

  4. Jonathan McClure

    Parking lot behind Town Hall

  5. Cristina Negrin

    Town Hall field

  6. Chip Stephens SHS 73

    The OLD Saugatuck School now Elderly Housing on Bridge St

  7. Michael Calise and Chip Stephens — a pair of former Westport Little Leaguers — are correct. The sign can be seen at the OLD Saugatuck Elementary School (now The Saugatuck housing complex) on Bridge Street. Play ball!

  8. 35 Bridge Street, aka The Saugatuck Cooperative. There are a currently a few units available for sale there. It’s the best deal in town for qualified seniors!

  9. Joanne Romano

    Town Hall?

    • Holy moly!!! Incredible story!!! Glad I caught up with 06880 tonight. We lived near the old Saugatuck elementary school and attended there…what memories.

  10. Daryl Styner-Presley

    Town Hall Parking lot, where the baseball/softball fields are?

  11. A couple of minor corrections – McLaughlin shot his father and drove directly to the police station. Entering, he shot Don Bennett who was standing in front of the desk. He then pointed the gun at Ande Chapo and pulled the trigger but the gun jammed. That’s when he turned and ran from the station chased by a wounded Don Bennett and Ande. As Chapo followed him out the door, McLaughlin turned and shot him. The rest of us were responding and arrived within minutes. A gun battle ensued with McLaughlin firing from behind Don’s patrol car and the rest of us from points around the parking lot. McLaughlin made a break for the door of the PD and was shot, falling just inside the door. Skip Stanton was the first behind him and kicked the gun away from McLaughlin. The incident occurred at 2:13 am, not an hour before dawn. Other officers involved were Chet Cornell, Skip Stanton and myself. Both Chet and Skip left the department within a couple of years following the incident. Ande, Don and I remained, all retiring much later. Ande and Skip have both passed on., Don resides in Arizona. He and I remain the only retired officers involved in the incident who are still alive. That is exactly how the incident went down. It is as clear to me now as it was those many years ago. – Dick Alley

    • Thanks, Dick. And thank you for your service, that night and for so many, many years.

    • Bob Stalling

      Hi Dick,
      Wow, I did not know that story (I Was 2).
      I would just like to say (as a teenager in Westport in the 70’s) my friends and I always had a lot of respect for you. You were fair, professional, polite, and gave us all a few breaks when we probably didn’t deserve it. Thanks for your service…
      Hope all is well.

  12. BJ: although I don’t think any of the Saugatuck El playing fields were used back in the day for Little League, I was told by the former board president of the Saugatuck Cooperative that the field on the lower level to the west of the school was used by the youngest groups of female Little Leaguers in the 1990s into the first part of the 2000s after the school had been converted to senior housing. Diane Goss Farrell even came out to throw out the first pitch on Opening Day. And that sign was put up to indicate the demarcation between the residents’ parking area and visitor parking.

  13. Kevin McCaul

    I don’t think Little League would allow players old enough to drive.