Bad Joke Led To Ticket For Newtown Bank Worker, PD Says

Hartford Courant |

--A Newtown bank employee who wrote "HELP" on fogged-up glass as a joke Friday ended up getting a ticket for creating a public disturbance, police said.

"Obviously, this type of prank puts the general public, other bank employees, and responding officers at an unnecessary risk, especially in the times and community we live in," Lt. Aaron Bahamonde said.

Police said they were called to the Wells Fargo Bank, 22 Church Hill Road, about after a customer went to the bank and saw the word "HELP" written on the fogged-up front door. Fearing someone was in trouble, the man called his wife, who is in the banking industry, and she advised him to call 911.

He called police, and when they called the bank, no one answered, Bahamonde said.

Shortly after officers arrived, they saw several people in the bank, conducting what appeared to be business as usual. They knocked on the locked door, getting the attention of the manager, and told her about the 911 call.

The manager told them the employee, Alexis Barry, 31, of Washbrook Road in Newtown, had written the word as a joke, police said. The door was locked, and the phone not answered, because the bank wasn't open yet.

Bahamonde said Friday afternoon that the joke is "just not funny in any way." Multiple police officers rushed to the bank, fearing there was some type of robbery or hostage situation going on inside. A bank around the block had just been robbed last summer, he said.

Pranks can turn deadly, too, he said, pointing to the "swatting" hoax in Kansas that led to an officer fatally shooting an innocent man.

And the bank is less than two miles down the road from Sandy Hook Elementary School, where 20 children and six staff members were killed by a gunman five years ago. Some of the officers who responded to the bank had been at that horrific scene, he said.

Asked if a bank employee in another town would have gotten a ticket, Bahamonde said, "Probably, without a doubt -- if not arrested."

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