Police responding to a report of an invasion at the home of a credit union official on Monday uncovered what they believe is a robbery plot and then found a man with an apparent bomb strapped to his body at the credit union.
The series of events began just after 8 a.m. in nearby Bristol at the home of the Achieve Financial Credit Union's chief financial officer and ended in the early afternoon at the credit union in New Britain, prompting lockdowns at some schools. No one was injured, and the people believed to be behind the plot to rob the credit union remained at large, authorities said.
The state police bomb squad rendered the apparent explosive device safe, New Britain police Chief James Wardwell said. He did not provide further details, saying that state police officials were determining whether the device was a bomb.
"They made sure it could not explode," Wardwell said.
The name of the man who had the device strapped to him wasn't released, but Wardwell said police believe he is a credit union employee. Wardwell said authorities were investigating whether the man was forced to take part in a robbery or whether he was one of the people behind the plot.
It was unclear if any money was taken from the credit union, which didn't return a message seeking comment. Authorities did not provide descriptions of the suspects or say how many there were.
The home in Bristol is owned by credit union CFO Matthew Yussman, public records show. Yussman lives there with his mother, neighbors said. Police wouldn't say if anyone was in the home when officers arrived.
While at the home, officers discovered a scheme to steal money from the credit union, Wardwell said.
Dozens of law enforcement authorities, including police from New Britain and surrounding towns, state police and FBI agents, responded to the credit union branch. Several blocks were cordoned off, and schools in Bristol, Farmington and Plainville were locked down as a precaution, authorities said.
"There's no question that this was a very scary situation," New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart said.
The events were reminiscent of a bank robbery in Erie, Pennsylvania, in 2003, when a pizza deliveryman was forced to wear a bomb collar around his neck while taking part in the heist. The deliveryman died when the bomb collar exploded.
Prosecutors alleged the deliveryman was in on the robbery plot but was fooled into believing the bomb collar would be a decoy until that fateful day. His family maintained he was an innocent hostage.
Two people were sentenced to prison. Another died of cancer before the other two were indicted.
Investigators determined the one who died of cancer made the bomb collar and ordered the pizzas that lured the deliveryman to a dead-end road, where he was forced to wear the bomb before being given handwritten instructions about how to rob the bank and disarm it.