'Threat to the community.' $1M bond set for Norwalk parolee found in full camo gear next to weapon

Brandon Wagshol, 26, was arrested Thursday, Dec. 14, which added to the disturbing nature of the accusations because the date marked 11 years since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

Marissa Alter

Dec 16, 2023, 12:28 AM

Updated 210 days ago

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A Norwalk convicted felon with an alleged history of interest in mass shootings had his bond set at $1 million after police said he was in full camo gear with what looked like an assault rifle not far from a school.
Brandon Wagshol, 26, was arrested Thursday, Dec. 14, which added to the disturbing nature of the accusations because the date marked 11 years since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.
Wagshol was arraigned in Stamford Superior Court Friday on charges of illegal use of a facsimile firearm, carrying a dangerous weapon, second-degree breach of peace and two counts of violation of probation.
“Your Honor, I do believe this defendant is a threat to the community,” Assistant State’s Attorney Margaret Moscati told the judge. “This defendant was found at 9 a.m. on a Thursday to be in full camo military style attire holding an AK-47 airsoft gun. However, for all appearances to any member of the public, it would appear to be an authentic assault rifle.”
Moscati said a concerned citizen reported seeing Wagshol walking on Van Buren Avenue near Maple Street, which is just down the road Jefferson Marine Science Elementary School, and later crouched behind a car with the weapon. Police responded to the area and said they found Wagshol on a nearby bike path, lying on his stomach with the rifle next to him.
According to court documents, Wagshol told police he was a Navy Seal and conducting training.
“He did not have any ammunition in the gun, nor did he have any on his person,” Moscati said. “However, this defendant does have a history.”
In 2021, Wagshol was sentenced to 10 years in prison, suspended after four years, followed by five years of probation as part of a deal where he pleaded guilty to second-degree assault and illegal possession of high-capacity magazines.
Police first arrested Wagshol in August 2019 after a tip from the FBI that he was trying to illegally buy high-capacity magazines in New Hampshire. Wagshol was a college student in Connecticut at the time. A raid of his apartment in Norwalk allegedly found a stockpile of weapons, ammo and body armor.
In his arrest warrant from back then, police said they found “alarming” social media posts from Wagshol, suggesting plans for a mass shooting. The warrant also said he had a history of violent threats, including when he allegedly threatened to shoot another student in sixth grade and said, “I’ll make Virginia Tech look like nothing.” According to the warrant, two years later, police received calls about Wagshol's Facebook page, after he listed "PLANNING A MASS MURDER!!!!" and "I'M GENOCIDAL" under his activities and interests.
Moscati brought up that history in court. She also noted he was only released from incarceration two months ago and has been in and out of the hospital for psychiatric reasons since.
“It does not appear he's getting the proper assistance now. Therefore, I do think taking him out of the community is the safest option,” she told the judge.
According to court documents, Wagshol got out of prison on Oct. 12 but was taken to Norwalk Hospital on Oct. 23 after having “an episode” where he was found walking along Connecticut Avenue wearing a gas mask and appearing disoriented.
The documents said he suffered from “military delusions” and remained on the hospital’s psychiatric floor until being discharged on Nov. 13.
Police brought him to the hospital again on Nov. 27 because he was “delusional and manic” and “insisted he was a CIA agent,” according to the documents, which stated Wagshol was held involuntarily and moved to Rockville General Hospital. He was discharged from there on Dec. 11, the documents said.
“This is a complex scenario. There’s a lot of investigation to do,” said defense attorney Andrew Gould, who represented Wagshol for bond purposes at the arraignment. Gould said a motion to modify bond would come at a later time.
In setting bond at $1 million, Judge Alex Hernandez also ordered a mental health evaluation and a competency evaluation. Hernandez also said if Wagshol posts bond,  he'll have to wear a GPS ankle monitor while out.
Wagshol’s next court date is set for Jan. 22.

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