A man suspected of robbing a store in Hamden and exchanging gunfire with a police officer Wednesday night has been arrested and charged with criminal attempt to commit murder, as well as other charges.
Police identified the suspect as 31-year-old K'waun Cole, of Hamden, who they said is a convicted felon.
Hamden Police Chief Thomas Wydra said during a news conference Thursday that officers who were involved in the manhunt for Cole Wednesday night performed “bravely and courageously.”
Officer Andrew Pfeiffer, a six-year-veteran of the department, was involved in the shooting and Wydra said the department is proud of how he handled himself when a suspect engaged him in gunfire.
“Based on what we know so far, and we know a lot, he performed in a very heroic way, very courageous way,” Wydra said. “His calmness and composure under fire was extraordinary.”
Someone flagged down Pfeiffer, who was in a marked vehicle and in uniform, about an armed robbery at the Krauszer’s Food Store on State Street around 9:20 p.m., Wydra said.
When Pfeiffer approached the store, Cole shot at him and Pfeiffer engaged in a “tactical retreat,” but Cole encountered him again and they exchanged shots, Wydra said.
Pfeiffer was not struck.
“We’re very grateful that he was able to walk away physically uninjured,” Wydra said. “It’s probably nothing short of a miracle when you consider how close in proximity they both were to each other as they were exchanging gunfire – very close proximity.”
Cole was shot in the finger and torso and fled the scene, according to police.
Several departments and K9 units were called in to search for Cole, who was located on around an hour later, hiding under a vehicle on State Street, and taken to the hospital.
He has been released and charged with first-degree robbery, criminal attempt to commit murder and criminal possession of a firearm.
“We believe his intent in firing his weapon, especially in close proximity to a uniformed police officer, was to kill him,” Wydra said.
Cole appeared in court Thursday, with a bandage on his right wrist. Bond was set at $1 million and prosecutors wanted to increase it to $2 million, but the judge decided to keep it at $1 million.
Cole invoked his right to remain silent and is due back in court on Feb. 13. The case has been transferred to New Haven.
Residents in the area were warned to lock their doors and stay inside while police were searching for the suspect. Officials also asked that residents turn on outdoor lights to help authorities in the search.
One witness described the dramatic scene.
"There was at least 16, at least 16 cops, undercover cops. We saw the dog running, we saw the shotguns out and we actually, literally just stopped. We didn’t know what to do," she told NBC Connecticut.
The officer was not injured. Wydra said the officer, Andrew Pfeiffer, involved has been with the Hamden Police Department for five years.
Wydra said Pfeiffer's response was tactical and heroic. He has been placed on modified assignment in the building.
"I don't expect he'll be out long," Wydra said.