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Car Crashes Into Conn. Courthouse

October 29, 1998

NORWALK, Conn. (AP) _ A driverless Ford Explorer, rigged with a piece of wood so that its gas pedal was jammed to the floor, crashed through the front doors of the courthouse in the middle of the night Thursday, causing extensive damage.

The stolen vehicle had been aimed at the Superior Court building from a shopping center parking lot directly across the street.

``It was intentional. The car was rigged,″ said Trial Court Administrator Lorraine Murphy.

State police said someone had used a piece of wood to keep the accelerator down.

Sgt. Anthony J. Schirillo III said police had no suspects.

The vehicle jumped the curb in front of the courthouse, crashed through the doors and drove almost the entire length of the first floor until it plowed through a brick wall.

Murphy said that it was the fourth time a vehicle had gone through the front of the courthouse building in 17 years. Two of the earlier crashes were accidents, and one was intentional, she said.

Chief Court Administrator Judge Aaron Ment said the courthouse is one of only a few in the state with a storefront-style, street-level layout, insteads of steps leading up to the doors. Authorities said they may consider putting some kind of concrete barrier out front.

The courthouse was expected to remain closed at least until Friday while it was checked for structural damage. Some arraignments were held in Stamford instead, but most cases were postponed.

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