Ruff Day For Robber, Balu Tracks Shoeless Suspect

German shepherd
Balu knows shoes.

From Bill Kaempffer, police spokesman:

A shoeless teen faces robbery and weapons charges after police interrupted an attempted armed robbery on Fairfield Avenue.

Officer Anthony Gianpaolo was on patrol traveling on Clinton Avenue near Fairfield Avenue when he heard yelling and observed a man on the ground outside the Gulf Station at 1267 Fairfield Ave. with a man standing above him holding his waistband. When Gianpaolo pulled into the gas station, the suspect started walking away and the man on the ground ran toward the officer and stated that the suspect had just tried to rob him and was armed with a gun.

Gianpaolo chased the suspect on foot. Additional officers responded to the scene and set up a perimeter to assist in the search for the suspect. The victim, an employee at the gas station, told police that he was outside smoking a cigarette when the suspect, later identified as Reginald Chavis, 19, of Bridgeport, approached, pulled a gun and ordered the victim to go inside and open the register.

The two men struggled and the victim was thrown to the ground.

Officer William Simpson and his K-9 Balu were among the officers responding. The suspect, during the foot chase, had lost both of his shoes. Using one of the Nike sneakers for a scent, Balu tracked the suspect and located him hiding behind 313 Clinton Ave. He was arrested without further incident. He was not wearing shoes when he was taken into custody. Officer Keith Hanson later located a discarded handgun underneath a car on nearby Colorado Avenue.

“This was an outstanding job by patrol and K-9 officers,” said Chief Joseph L. Gaudett. Jr.

The incident is under investigation by the detective bureau’s robbery unit to determine if Chavis is responsible for other robberies in the city.

Chavis faces charges of criminal attempt at first-degree robbery, second-degree assault, criminal use of a firearm, interfering with police and additional gun charges. His bond was set at $75,000.



  1. This is a relevant story to ‘life in the City’ as we experience it today, though I have a serious takeaway in addition to the tail-wagging humor above.

    A 19-year-old male Bridgeport resident attempts to take money at gunpoint from a business and is promptly apprehended through a coordinate pursuit of officers and man’s best friend. No question, this was a poor choice on his part. No gunshots. Another gun off the street. A testament to regular police patrols, attention to environment and good communications protocol. A+ for the City story so far.

    However, my fiscal mind swings into gear as I see the young man I have mentored for the past six years, now age 18, ready to leave for college with over 75% financial support, as the first in his family to matriculate at an institution of higher learning. What does the year difference in age mean when thinking about these two young men presumably City born and bred? The educational system in each case provided over $150,000 of tax-free (to them and their families) funds to proceed from K to high school senior. And other programs and opportunities along the way, if you were looking.

    That’s a lot of money when thought of in total, but not enough to provide youth in the City of Bridgeport with the same advantages enjoyed by youth in neighboring communities. ECS from the State is acknowledged to be inadequate and the Commissioner’s District program from CT does not make up for that gap. Preparation for the real world, with current job offerings for those not going on to immediate advanced education is not a priority, is it? Why not?

    When park dedications, building of new schools or railroad stations is considered “economic development” along with tax abatements for wealthy real estate investors who live in other towns, where are the ongoing jobs for young people, and the training to assist them to advance to become homeowners, taxpayers and volunteers in service to their community?

    Finally, Bill Kaempffer as police spokesperson is a nice guy, but wouldn’t Chief Gaudett’s comments have made it to the paper equally well if that position were eliminated and another reading or math consultant were working face-to-face with the kids in school because those dollars were made available as part of the City’s cash contribution? That is something that could happen easily if $4 Million of excess police, fire and emergency operations overtime had been closer to budget in 2014, last year. Isn’t that the shame of poor choices around the community? Time will tell.

  2. JML, part of the problem with the 19 y/o with the gun is he can’t find a job in the city in which he lives. The Bridgeport Fire Department is hiring 10 people and 7 live outside the city. In fact of the 28 already hired for the BFD, 20 live somewhere other than Bridgeport.

    My hope is the young man you are mentoring decides to move to another city because as a resident of Bridgeport his chances of working for the city are slim to none.

    1. DD,
      Thanks for raising the same point in our conversation on primary day about City hires mainly coming from outside the City.
      However, there is also a major concern when a youth can pass through a system intended to support his/her personal growth and development of talent at significant public expense (that may still be inadequate) to arrive at age 18 or 19 to face the reality of a seeming dead end and poor choices on the part of more than one. Time will tell.


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