A protest in Waterbury turned violent as community members called for the closing of a city motel Friday night, according to police.
The protest happened at approximately 5:30 p.m. in the area of the Big Apple Motel at 428 West Main St. Officers were initially dispatched to the area to monitor the protest.
At around 7 p.m., the crowd grew to about 100 people who police said were blocking the streets in the area.
Several protesters were seen on the roof of the motel trying to damage the electronic billboard sign while others were breaking the front windows, police said.
Then, several people entered the motel through the broken windows and started to damage property inside the lobby, according to police.
Police said they were able to identify one man who threw a metal object through the front window before leaving the scene. The 16-year-old was arrested in the area of Willow Street and West Main Street and faces second degree criminal mischief charges, police said.
Later on, another individual was arrested after he allegedly picked up a rock, made eye contact with a police sergeant and threw the rock at him, police said. The rock almost struck the sergeant in the head, barely missing him, according to police.
Angel Troche, 20, fled the scene and was arrested in the area of Willow Street and West Main Street, police said. Troche faces criminal attempt at assault on a public safety officer charges. He is being held on a $5,000 bond pending arraignment, police said.
Police said the crowd dispersed at approximately 11 p.m.
History of Frequent Police Activity
A change.org petition was organized by Waterbury resident Ronae Mason Craig with a goal of shutting down the motel.
“This hotel is a nuisance and disturbing the peace of Waterbury residents – we are taking steps backward by allowing a business as such to continue on,” Craig states in the petition.
According to police, since the motel opened in December of 2015, there have been 743 calls for service to the location, including calls made to both the police and fire department which include criminal complaints, medical requests, unfounded calls, and motor vehicle accidents, according to police.
Of those calls, there were 50 incidents that involved arrests, police said. The arrests were for offenses including narcotic/illegal drug violations, disorderly conduct/breach of peace, larceny/stolen property, aggravated assaults, weapon law violations, and arrest by outstanding arrest warrants, police said.
Motel Responds to Incident, Accusations
The Big Apple Motel in Waterbury said they are not linked to any wrongdoing and accusations are just a “he-said-she-said rumor.”
The son of the owner, Umar Ahmed, told NBC Connecticut that since last year, police calls have significantly dropped.
“Everything is under control over here,” Ahmed said.
Ahmed told NBC Connecticut the accusations are just a hoax and “the truth will come out.”
Ahmed said he is all for peaceful protesting, but the protesters started to attack his family’s property. An employee was at the motel at the time of the protest, along with Ahmed’s father, who had to lock the doors of the backroom while the lobby was vandalized, according to Ahmed.
“It is tough seeing my property out here getting damaged,” Ahmed said. “We can’t do anything until the police come out and clear our name.”
Now, the broken windows caused by Friday’s violent protest are boarded up with wood.
“I feel their pain. We are a part of the community, too,” Ahmed said.
Ahmed said the motel has already lost so much business and this incident is going to continue to tarnish the business.
“And there’s nothing we can do about that,” Ahmed said.
Following Friday’s protests, the motel has damage to its front windows, electronic motel sign, a television flat screen in the lobby, a food vending machine in the lobby, two small digital signs and surveillance cameras, police said.
The incident is under investigation and anyone with information is asked to call detectives at 203-574-6941.