Update: FBI Searches Shelton House
by Eugene Driscoll and Jodie Mozdzer | May 5, 2010 8:53 am
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Posted to: Shelton
FBI agents searched the former Shelton home of attempted Times Square bombing suspect Faisal Shahzad Tuesday as throngs of reporters and neighbors looked on.
The agents were accompanied by members of the Stamford Police Department Joint Terrorism Task Force.
For several hours the agents went through the vacant home and piles of trash left behind in the backyard after Shahzad’s family lost the home to a foreclosure.
Earlier in the day, reporters picked through discarded documents in the yard. Among the finds — Shahzad’s old passport, financial statements and receipts for mortgage payments for the home at 119 Long Hill Ave.
Authorities finally cordoned off the property with yellow tape at about 1 or 1:30 p.m., neighbors said.
Law enforcement officials did not say what they hoped to find or why they waited until so long to search the Shelton property.
“The FBI is the lead organization investigating this incident. We were responding to their request for service,” Shelton Police Chief Joel Hurliman said when asked why the property was cordoned off Tuesday afternoon.
Shahzad, 30, was arrested at about 11:45 p.m. Monday in connection to last Saturday’s failed car bombing in Times Square.
According to a complaint filed Tuesday by federal prosecutors, the former Shelton resident is a terrorist who admitted to receiving bomb-making training in Waziristan, Pakistan.
“Based on what we know so far, it is clear that this was a terrorist plot, aimed at murdering Americans in one of the busiest places in our country,” U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said during a press conference Tuesday.
Holder’s complete statement is posted at the end of this article.
A copy of the criminal complaint, posted by Main Justice, is at the end of this article.
The Shelton Angle
Shahzad and his wife lived in Shelton from 2004 until, roughly, last summer, according to neighbors. They have two young children, a son and a daughter.
The house at 119 Long Hill Ave. was constructed in 2003 by J&D Country Builders. They sold the property to Shahzad on July 27, 2004.
Shahzad took out a $218,400 mortgage on the property.
Three years after purchasing the house Shahzad, 30, signed a survivorship deed over to Huma Mian, the woman listed as his wife on his Facebook page.
The document meant the three-bedroom, two-story house would have been turned over to Mian in the event of Shahzad’s death.
In place of a dollar amount, the deed says the property was transferred for “love and affection.”
Precisely why a seemingly devoted husband, who worked as a financial analyst at the Affinion Group in Stamford, allegedly decided to turn a Nissan Pathfinder into a weapon of mass destruction, remained a mystery Tuesday.
Shahzad and his family had money problems, according to public records in Shelton City Hall.
In February 2009, Mian and Shahzad took out a home equity line on the house for $65,000 through Wachovia Bank.
Chase Home Finance, LLC started foreclosing on the Shelton property in September 2009, when it filed a lawsuit against Shahzad.
The foreclosure is still pending in Superior Court in Milford.
The case file is more than 50 pages long. It includes several appraisal reports and debt tallies.
As of April 26, 2010, Mian and Shazhad owed the bank $212,870.
The court documents indicate that the couple owes $21.99 a day in interest.
Brenda Thurman, Shahzad’s neighbor, described him as a peculiar, but neighborly fellow.
She spoke to reporters at length around 2 a.m. Tuesday, shortly after authorities announced Shahzad’s arrest. See video.
Thurman said she didn’t have much contact with the Shahzad family, other than their kids playing together.
“He was kind of strange. One night somebody jumped over the (neighbor’s) fence. My daughter thought someone was trying to get into the house. We went out and saw him walking around his house. He just said he was jogging. He liked to jog at night,” she said.
Thurman said Shahzad often wore black, which struck her as odd.
“There was something a bit off about him,” she said.
On the other hand, Shahzad was “neighborly,” she said. He made it a point to apologize when his landscaper accidentally broke her car window.
Shahzad “disappeared” sometime last year, in May or June, Thurman said. His wife moved out later, either in June or July, she said.
The Associated Press reported that Shahzad had recently returned to the U.S. after a trip to Pakistan.
He eventually settled, without his family, in an apartment in Bridgeport — where investigators spent most of their time Tuesday.
The plot to bomb Times Square was launched around December 2009, according to the government’s complaint.
Several neighbors pointed out that Shahzad and his family simply walked away from the Long Hill Avenue house — as evident by the piles of personal documents, including tax returns, left in the house.
They didn’t have their mail forwarded. Thurman said so much mail piled up, the box on her neighbor’s property fell over.
“They left a lot of their stuff there,” Thurman said. “All they really took was a refrigerator.”
Thurman didn’t notice anything strange on Long Hill Avenue until Monday morning, when a number of dark sedans sat parked at several spots up and down the narrow road.
“They were police. They were looking for somebody,” Thurman said. The men in the cars didn’t get out, but drove up and down the road a few times. Thurman said she called Shelton police to report suspicious activity.
The road remained clogged with media and onlookers all day Tuesday.
“I just came down, really, to find out information myself,” said Debbie Bussolari, who lives a few houses away.
Bussolari said she never spoke to Shahzad, but would see him sometimes walking down the street.
“He was dressed like he was from the Middle East,” Bussolari said. “He would nod as he walked by. He wasn’t unfriendly. They seemed like a quiet young couple.”
Several camera crews and reporters surrounded neighbor Mary Ann Galich Tuesday. She said she never talked to Shahzad much, either.
“He would say ‘hi’ and ‘bye,’” Galich said. “He seemed like a normal guy.”
Galich said she could see the family having barbecues in their backyard.
After the Shahzads left, the property went downhill fast.
Teens began using the house as a party spot, Galich said.
“After they left, kids, they used to pull open the back windows and doors,” she said.
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