A 73-year-old state marshal has been arrested after police say he pointed a gun in the direction of a group of teenagers hanging out in front of a neighborhood convenience store on Spencer Street in Naugatuck last month.
Police were called to a report of an armed robbery in progress at 7:53 p.m. on June 5 at Stop & Save Market at 170 Spencer St. after the teens reported seeing Joseph Butler pull up to the store in an older sedan, get out of the car and start waving a handgun in the air in front of the market, which is located in a residential neighborhood, according to a police report.
Some of the teens said Butler identified himself as a police officer, and all said he opened the door to the convenience store, looked inside and then got back into his car, police said. Nobody was injured during the incident.
Police found a sedan matching the description given by the teens to Butler’s house at nearby 25 Fairchild St. Officers said they found a silver and black semiautomatic handgun in the passenger seat of the vehicle.
Butler admitted he had the gun with him at the convenience store but told police it was because he was attempting to serve a warrant, according to a police report. Officers said there was nobody in the store who matched the wanted person’s description. And police said state marshals, who serve warrants, do not carry weapons within the performance of their duties.
Police said they applied for a warrant for Butler’s arrest based on the fact that he pointed a gun in the direction of teens, created a disturbance because people thought he was attempting to rob the store, and officers noted that Butler had no markings on him to indicate he was a state marshal.
Butler turned himself in at the Naugatuck Police Department Wednesday after learning of a warrant for his arrest. He was charged with first-degree reckless endangerment and breach of peace, both misdemeanors.
When reached by phone Thursday, Butler referred all questions to his attorney, M. Leonard Caine, III. Caine said Butler has a permit from the state to carry a firearm and doesn’t believe Butler did anything wrong.
“There is a great dispute as to the facts, and I’m sure when the facts come out, he will be exonerated,” Caine said. He would not elaborate.
A clerk at the Waterbury Superior Court said the office had not received Butler’s file on Thursday, although Naugatuck police maintain the clerk’s office should have the file, including the arrest warrant affidavit, in its possession.
Butler is scheduled to be arraigned in Waterbury on Aug. 1. He is free after posting a $15,000 cash bond.
His status as a judicial marshal could not be confirmed as of Thursday evening. A spokesman for the State Marshal Commission did not immediately return a call for comment.