Last weekend's arrest of a mentally ill man who had been stockpiling weapons has some believing that another potential tragedy akin to the one in Newtown was averted.
Jordan Marsh, 26, whose most recent address was 485 King St. in South Windsor, is facing a litany of charges after allegedly attempting to steal a long rifle from an East Windsor gun store last Saturday.
Marsh, who until recently lived with his father and stepmother, had previously received a two-year suspended sentence after it was discovered in June 2011 that he had .
According to an East Windsor police report, Marsh attempted to steal a Bushmaster .50 caliber rifle from Riverview Sales on Dec. 15, when an employee noticed that Marsh was leaving the store without paying for the $4,995.95 gun.
Marsh, according to the report, then fled the store with the rifle, with two employees chasing after him. Marsh reached his vehicle, put the rifle down and pulled a knife on the employees, according to the report. Marsh then fled on foot, but was eventually arrested by East Windsor police officers. A canister of pepper spray, in addition to the rifle and the knife, were seized by police.
Marsh was charged with larceny in the third degree, robbery in the first degree, theft of a firearm and carrying of dangerous weapons. He was arraigned in Enfield on Monday and held on $2 million bail.
Nancy Mulroy, Hartford public information officer, said in a telephone interview Thursday that Hartford police were notified of the AR-15 rifle located in the Hilton Hotel after the credit card that Jordan Marsh used to pay for the room was denied.
Hotel security, which accessed the room after the card was denied on Dec. 16, discovered the rifle and immediately contacted police, Mulroy said.
Hartford police were able to connect Marsh to his earlier arrest on Dec. 15 and contacted East Windsor authorities, Mulroy said.
The Hartford portion of the investigation is still open and ongoing, and no additional charges have been filed as of yet.
During the investigation, police in Hartford seized an AR-15 rifle from a Hartford hotel that Marsh had checked into several days earlier, according to East Windsor Det. Matthew Carl. Marsh allegedly had stolen that gun from Riverview Sales as well, Carl said.
Carl said that Marsh indicated that he needed the gun because he was “being teased at work.”
According to Marsh’s stepmother, Sharon Hodge, Marsh had been working at The Eugene Steinberg Co. in Bloomfield as an apprentice plumber with his father, Steven Marsh.
Jordan Marsh had recently lost his job at the company, according to Hodge.
Hodge said that Jordan Marsh has been diagnosed with schizophrenia and had been living in their South Windsor home until Jordan was kicked out last week after he neglected to take his medication and started behaving erratically.
“He’s very ill,” said Hodge, adding that Jordan Marsh started exhibiting mental health issues after he sustained a traumatic brain injury in a snowmobile accident seven or eight years ago. “We was very healthy, taking college classes.”
Hodge said that when Jordan Marsh is taking his medication, “he’s fine. He’s well-liked.”
But when he stops taking his medication, Jordan Marsh starts “hearing voices,” Hodge said.
Hodge said that, in taking the Newtown tragedy under consideration, Jordan’s father, Steven, said, “My God, that could have been us.”
Despite all of the factors - outward anger toward his parents and former employer, mental illness, homelessness and the stockpiling of weapons - Carl said that Jordan Marsh “never came out and said, ‘I plan on shooting [people].’”
“What he said was he needed a firearm because he was being teased at work and because he needed it for protection,” Carl said. "It's glaringly apparent that he has mental health issues.”
Still, Carl said that the incident was “alarming.”
As for Riverview Sales, Carl said that he could not comment on whether federal authorities are investigating the store.
Store employees were not aware that Jordan Marsh had taken 12 guns from the store in the first incident until they was alerted in June 2011. He received a two-year suspended sentence this past May for the crime. Neither were store employees aware that the AR-15 found in Jordan Marsh's hotel room in Hartford had been removed from the store until alerted by authorities.
Marsh isn’t the only person who has stolen a large number of guns from Riverview Sales, according to police.
In 2007, Riverview Sales owner David E. Laguercia notified the federal Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms and Explosives that 33 guns were missing from his store, according to a Hartford Courant story. Of those 33 guns, 28 were recovered when police searched the home of Brian H. McClelland, who was a frequent customer of the store and helped out on occasion, the Courant reported.
Carl said that the store’s owners were not aware that the weapons had been taken until they were told by police.
When asked whether, in taking all three incidents together, there was a systemic problem with Riverview Sales keeping track of its potentially lethal inventory, Carl said “absolutely.”
“They were unaware that firearms were walking out the door,” Carl said. “How many guns [have been taken from the store] that we are not aware of?”