One would usually think very little excitement occurs in the bucolic village of Middle Haddam. Occasional outbursts over the boundaries of the Historic District, traffic when a refueling was being performed at Yankee Atomic, or church bells marking Sunday service or a holiday being the norm. But in August 23, 1923, a State Police officer was shot during an attempted burglary at the general store and post office. The Post Office is still in the same location, but a local realtor has the space once occupied by the general store.
The perpetrators of the break-in, John Bay, 24 years old from Pittsfield, MA and Steven Bubrowski, alias, Larry Richards, 17 years old from Northampton, MA were apprehended on the Air Line railroad tracks in Portland after fleeing the scene. The two were being held in Middletown but because the attempted robbery occurred in the Town of East Hampton, the accused had to be taken before an East Hampton Justice, EH like many towns then having its own court system. Bail had been fixed at $1,000 which neither man could secure.
Bay confessed to police to being ringleader of a gang that had terrorized lower Connecticut River Valley towns from Middletown to Old Saybrook, had attempted two previous break-ins in the Middle Haddam village. From Northampton, Bay and Richards made their way to Boston, leaving the Hub by train to Willimantic, secured an automobile ride to Middle Haddam. They wandered around town, waiting on the river bank until 11 P.M., whereupon they went to the store. They had just broken the glass of a rear window when surprised by state police. Bay immediately opened fire, wounding John Gondek in the upper right forearm. The two were apprehended when an informant spotted them on the railroad tracks cleaning their guns. Unnoticed, he tiptoed back to safety and immediately called the state police who arrived on the scene with the capture occurring without trouble.