SOUTHINGTON — Brett Palumbo knows Douglas Floyd Gollnick as a chatty, friendly customer whose Nissan Mirano got some front-end repairs at Palumbo’s garage about six weeks ago.
So Palumbo was bewildered that the garage doors at Palumbo’s 66 Service Center were riddled with a dozen .22-caliber rifle shots, one of at least seven homes, churches and businesses shot up in Southington, including its Plantsville and Marion sections, and Cromwell on Sunday. Police said Gollnick, who was charged in some of the incidents, knew individuals at each of the locations.
Palumbo said that when he last talked to Gollnick he noticed Gollnick would change topics a lot, Palumbo said.
“I had a good relationship with the guy. He came here [for auto repairs] and my son lives across the street from him,” the 58-year-old Palumbo said Tuesday. “He always wanted to talk. I feel bad for the guy. I do. He’s a nice guy.”
Police linked three incidences of bullets fired in Southington and bullets fired into a church in Cromwell to Gollnick’s alleged shooting spree, Southington police spokesman Lt. Keith Egan said. Bullet holes were also discovered Tuesday on the south side of the Capitol building in Hartford, but Egan said he was waiting to see if that event was linked to the other incidents.
Gollnick, a Plantsville resident, has no known criminal history, but police were contacted twice in December 2020 to check on his welfare. Some of the alleged connections between the 74-year-old and the places fired upon are plain. Others are elusive. Gollnick, for example, likely shot at the Cromwell church, which he recently joined, after targeting a Southington church he had recently left, Egan said.
Palumbo’s connection was the most recent — the work done on Gollnick’s SUV and a visit for gasoline about three weeks ago, Egan said. One of the people targeted, a doctor, never treated Gollnick, but was possibly a colleague of someone who had. Gollnick, a car collector driving a leased vehicle when he was arrested, had a lengthy history with some of the targets, Egan said.
“Some of the associations date back 30 years,” Egan said. “These were some old grievances he was addressing. As far as we know, there were some connections with some cars too. This is all still kind of preliminary, though.”
Police haven’t had much of a chance to interview Gollnick, Egan said. He was arrested on Sunday night following a multi-town police chase that ended with a crash on the Arrigoni Bridge in Middletown. Gollnick was charged with two of the shooting incidents as of Tuesday and went into the hospital immediately after his arrest Sunday night, where he is undergoing psychiatric evaluation, Egan said.
The charges include one count of first-degree assault, unlawful discharge of a firearm, reckless endangerment, criminal use of a firearm and first-degree criminal mischief. Gollnick will be held on a $500,000 bail when released from the hospital, Egan said.
Police charged Gollnick with first-degree assault in connection with one shooting, at 376 North Star Drive, because residents were home at the time.
Palumbo’s garage was closed at the time of the shooting, Palumbo said. The bullets hit the garage doors high, punching little half-inch holes through the metal and glass.
Four bullets apparently punctured the door closest to the front entrance, with eight in the middle door and one in the far left door. Two bullets also put two holes in a window to the rear of the building, likely after coming through the right door, Palumbo said.
Palumbo estimated it will likely cost him several thousand dollars to replace the doors and broken windows.
At first, he discounted the possibility that his shop had been struck when the news came over his television on Sunday. The next day, his sister suggested his shop, which his family has owned since 1955, might have been hit.
“Nothing surprises me anymore,” he said. “This world we live in. You don’t know what’s going to happen. Still, I just feel for the guy.”