Man with umbrella, mask arrested after Branchville search

A Westport police cruiser helps with a roadblock on Florida Road, south of Branchville School. —Macklin Reid photo

UPDATED 3:30 p.m. — A Redding man has been arrested for breach of peace following the commotion in Branchville this morning.

This umbrella is designed to look like a samurai sword.

Wilfredo M. Seda, 22, was reportedly the man who was seen, possibly carrying a gun, but police say he didn’t have a gun. He was “wearing all black clothing, a watch cap with a face mask looking like a beard. Across his back was an umbrella but it had the outward appearance of a samurai sword,” Ridgefield Police Capt. Tom Comstock wrote. Mr. Seda has a Jan. 3 court date.

Tensions ran high as today was the first school day after Friday’s killings in Newtown, and Ridgefield was not the only town to have an umbrella incorrectly identified as a gun and cause the school system to go into lockdown. That also happened in Montgomery County, Penn., today, according to a local CBS station.

11:20 a.m. —  School buses have begun bringing pupils to Branchville School after police declared the school safe. “After an extensive police search, no dangerous activity was discovered,” school officials said.

The modified lockdown in the other schools has been lifted.  As had already been planned for today, a police presence remains at each school, school officials said.

A single caller’s report of a seeing a man with what looked like a rifle walking along a road in Branchville caused Branchville School’s students to be diverted on their morning buses to East Ridge Middle School, and all Ridgefield schools to go on modified lock-down.

Ridgefield Police Captain Tom Comstock said the report was a “white male” who was “wearing all black, possibly carrying a weapon — it was slung over the shoulder.”

There are now unconfirmed reports that the man turned out to be a worker at a store in Branchville, on his way to his job with an unbrella over his shoulder.

He said there were no additional reports, just the one sighting of a suspicious person, called in shortly before 8 o’clock. “Just one,” he said.

Police were going around the area, “checking door to door, see if anybody was outside” and saw something that would confirm the report initially called in.

“We have not found anything at this time,” he said.

The person who gave the initial report had been questioned several times, he said.

“The story has not changed,” Captain Comstock said. “…They stuck to the story. It was a gun.”

He spoke before a cluster of reporters, microphones and TV cameras at a news conference about 10:25 in the Branchville train station parking lot.

He suggested the events which had drawn so many police and media people to Branchville might be a case of everyone being on high alert in the wake of Friday’s shooting in Newtown.

“A lot of people are on edge, just because of Friday, and because of the school,” he said.

Police from departments in neighboring towns, were helping out, he said, and thanked them.

 Police use dogs from Danbury, Wilton and State Police to check the area. There were also police from Redding, Norwalk, Westport, Bethel, and Weston helping. MTA police were also involved.

Branchville Station was also on a lockdown and had a SWAT team there.

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  • T.R. Rollins

    I hope the idiots that arrested and charged him managed to pull their heads out of their Obama’s and drop this ridiculous charge…

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