Norwalk Police: Man carried loaded handgun onto Island Belle

Norwalk Police swarm
Norwalk Police surround a man whose hands were bound behind his back early Sunday in Veterans Park as passengers disembark the Island Belle.

Updated, 5:26 p.m., name of man arrested.

NORWALK, Conn. – A man was arrested early Sunday morning in Veterans Park after security officers on the Island Belle party boat discovered that he had a loaded handgun, Norwalk Police said.

Sgt. Kevin Markert said security officers found the gun in a bag after the boat left the Veterans Park visitor’s dock for a pleasure cruise. The man was arrested at about 3:15 a.m. Markert did not know the man’s name, or the type of gun. The police arrest report available Sunday lists Rodney Howell, 34, of Bridgeport as having been charged with carrying a gun without a permit. His bond was $2,500.

There were about 18 police cars in the parking lot as Island Belle passengers disembarked the boat in an orderly and calm fashion at about 3 a.m. “This is a good night for them,” Markert said.

Police reported June 29 that passengers disembarking the boat that early Sunday morning were engaged in a large fight. There were injuries, according to police, as well as two broken windows on the boat. Island Belle operator Ken Hart said the police reports were wrong. “Out of 70 or 80 events we have had on the boat, we have never had a problem. We run a safe vessel,” Hart said.

The heavy police presence Sunday morning did not include everyone on the shift, Markert said. Another officer said the shift ended at 3 a.m. Everyone out there was on overtime, he said.

The Island Belle pays to use the Veterans Park visitors dock to board and disembark passengers through a permit obtained by the Department of Recreation and Parks this year from the Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Coast Guard.

Recreation and Parks Department Director Mike Mocciae said the city is paid $3 a foot for vessels to use the dock. The Island Belle pays about $300, he said. The city collects another $1,200 to $1,500 in parking fees each time the boat uses the dock, he said.


34 responses to “Norwalk Police: Man carried loaded handgun onto Island Belle”

  1. just curious

    Another profitable night for the city of norwalk. Where does this owner find these passengers? I haven’t seen any other news stories of this happening as often with other cruise boats as with the Island Belle. And he only pays 300.00 for use of the docks plus parking? According to reports and his own website this boat is either 110 or 130 feet long. Which is it? Is he screwing the city out of 30 to 90 dollars every time he uses the docks? Then again the city gets screwed everytime this guy appears so it really doesn’t surprise me.

  2. Lifelong Teacher

    And the Island Belle is an asset to the City of Norwalk why?? If the quote is true, and the owner only pays approximately $300 to use the dock, that’s ridiculous. I just paid the city tax on my modest Honda, and it was nearly $500.00.

  3. One and Done

    “Everyone out there was on overtime”, he said.
    18 cops for one hand gun??? Plain and simple, this is taxpayer abuse and direct harassment of a small business owner. Police presence is one thing, but this is a bit over the line.

  4. Casey Smith

    One – I don’t think the issue was the one hand gun, I think the issue was the fact that the Island Belle is licensed to carry up to 150 passengers. That’s an 8 to 1 ratio if a fight had broken out in the parking lot, as it had not all that long ago.
    I’m mildly curious as to how the boat security officers found the loaded gun in the guy’s bag. Do they search bags routinely?

  5. Suzanne

    One loaded hand gun can kill a lot of people. When is this boat never, ever coming back to Norwalk again? I thought it was in Rye?

  6. just curious

    No he’s “temporarily” docking it in Black Rock harbor in bridgeport. you can track it on marinetraffic.com. I don’t think it ever made it to rye, maybe someone involved with it there wised up to the fact that this boat creates problems where ever it goes.

  7. EveT

    Please, how can we get this boat out of Norwalk for good?

  8. Suzanne

    Thanks for the clarification, just curious. I am with Eve T: where is the sheriff? We need to keep this guy out of town for good.

  9. EastNorwalkChick

    The Island Belle is 130 ft. X $3.00 per ft. = $390.00, pays about $300.00, where’s the balance, does he owe us more and is not paying it? Is this wahoo getting a discount that we don’t know about?
    After paying the police OT and gas for 18 squad cars, we’re lucky if we break even on this.
    What is Mike Mocciae thinking? Time to cut ties with this guy…

    1. Mark Chapman

      @ EastNorwalkChick, et al

      According to the boat’s “birth announcement,” the actual length is 108 feet, which would mean $324. Mr. Mocciae has said “about $300,” so this all seems pretty much on the up and up. We will look into capacity issues. The boat was built for 600 passengers.

  10. Enuff is Enuff?

    Casey- The Island Belle is 600 Passenger I thought?

    One cop must cost the City $200 per hour easily if you think of all the expenses.(salary, insurance, expenses, pension =maybe even $400) But obviously all 18 responded because last night was slow and a gun was involved with a boat that can carry a lot of people. When a call comes in for a gun you never know what else there is, multiple, or an assault rifle. This is why I assume so many responded. But you can’t look at it as “breaking even.” If anything this guy went 2/2 on violence on his last two trips. Where is the Coast Guard on this? Isn’t there a limit on how many times you can end up in the news in one year?

    You can’t also blame the Island Belle for someone else bringing a gun….or can you? What is he supposed to have metal detectors? What we can blame is his poor choice of marketing and the hoodlum parties he has on his boat. I wouldn’t dare bring my children on this vessel after seeing report after report. After seeing this guy nonstop in the papers etc. I’m sure he has no reputation for others locally silly enough to take him on….But then again you never know some people may not do their due diligence. Maybe he needs to move to another body of water and clear his name. I don’t think he did a trip yet in July other than this one?

  11. Casey Smith

    Suzanne – I was not clear and you are correct. One gun + a large number of people equals mayhem. Of course, we don’t know what the security guard told the police either.

    Enuff – I have reason to believe that the Coast Guard has limited the boat to 150 passengers. I heard somewhere he only had excavation plans for 150 (PFDs, etc.), so that is what he is limited to. Whether or not he takes on more is anyone’s guess. However, if he is, then the Coast Guard could pull a surprise inspection and shut him down.

  12. Oldtimer there is more?

    Typical….Pretty sad to go from 600 passenger vessel to 150. Maybe thats why he hasn’t been sailing at all….Im sure alot more to the story than I know.

  13. Dennis DiManis

    Norwalk corruption and stupidity in full effect.

  14. just curious

    Mark just for clarification those stated numbers are the length of the waterline and the maximum beam. The overall length isn’t normally included on the documentation papers but most if not all marinas and towns charge for overall length of vessels i.e including bow sprits and swim platforms etc.

    1. Mark Chapman

      @ just curious

      Thanks for that info.

  15. EastNorwalkChick

    @Mark, per the Island belle website Hart has it at 130 ft., which probably includes the pulpit down, which is what most Marinas will include as overall length when calculating dockage cost….US Coast Guard has the beam at 98.3 ft….whatever it is, knowing Mocciae we’re probably getting screwed by this guy.

  16. beamy boat

    The beam is the width of the boat. It cant be 100 by 100 even though it looks like a floating barge”)

  17. spanner

    Lets first thank the Norwalk police Marine unit along with a member of the EMS crew that left Vets Park for a medical emergency shortly before the Belle came in.A ten year old was having an attack and needed help and the Norwalk police marine unit along with Norwalk Hospital responded to this emergency around 2am.Police took on a medic at Vets park and with its great speed capabilities took care of it.Makes up for the gas the police use to respond all the time to Rowaytons bridge where swimmers illegally swim a nonsense run if you ask me.

    The Belle and marine units passed each other near Grassy Island almost an hour before docking so this gun deal wan’t that bad was it?

    For those who think this boat is Norwalks largest problem don’t realize bar fights from Wall st to Sono wrack up injuries overtime and EMS response and for that Norwalk gets nothing by the foot.

    The Norwalk Marine police dept passed the boat twice and knew it was coming in logs show the call from the boat came in after the child was transported from Vets park via ambulance so in defense of everyone if there was a problem everyone was there to take care of it.

    Recreation and Parks Department Director Mike Mocciae seems to be the issue not the boat.

  18. WOW just WOW

    It seems to me the larger crime than the man having a gun is 18 cops on overtime. What I see in the picture is 18 cops hanging out doing nothing.

  19. Norewalk Lifer

    I am just glad someone was hurt, this could have been a much larger issue, and a sad one.

    Norwalk Lifer

  20. Suzanne

    I give the cops their overtime: Norwalk has its own personal, out of control speak easy in this degraded, drunken, raucous Island Belle.
    These “parties” are only, in a matter of time, going to really result in serious injury or, in this case, with a loaded gun and alcohol? Death. How many cops on overtime would people want then? *
    How much would the police be blamed for not being at the Island Belle to prevent a death or injury? The police naysayers would take both sides, I am sure.
    Police do not know what they are going to find when they show up: a wildly out of control large group of people and a loaded gun? That would make me a bit concerned and certainly merit a definitive response.
    Perhaps the party goer carrying the gun will be the pause that make other people think before they get on board: booze and bullets do not mix.

  21. Elizabeth

    You state
    I give the cops their overtime.
    After reading this and some of your other posts you seem to think that the city has an an endless supply of cash. Since you will give the cops their overtime I can only assume that you have written a check.
    I on the other hand question why it took 18 cops on overtime to arrest 1 guy that had a gun in a bag that he was not in possession of.

  22. WOW just WOW

    It seems to me that Mr. Hart and his crew should be commended for a job well done. His security staff found a gun in a bag that some jerk brought on board. The security staff took possession of the gun and handed it over to the police. The system worked. It seems that the issue is that a small minority of people in Norwalk have it out for Mr. Hart.

  23. Suzanne

    Elizabeth, Had someone been shot or, worse, killed because of the mix of alcohol and a loaded weapon, you would be complaining about the lack of police response given their regular pay.
    There are times when our taxes pay for worthwhile things – like saving a life that could have easily been taken under the circumstances of the drunken party atmosphere of the Island Belle.
    You pay taxes and I pay taxes. If I had my druthers, I would like it to be used toward saving or preventing the death of a human life. That is my value and you don’t have to share it nor do I have to open up a check book.
    I pay plenty of taxes for the right response from our Norwalk City Police. I am glad they are available when they are needed especially with the unknown circumstances of that evening.

  24. Enuff is Enuff?

    Great job for finding the gun but enuff is enuff,….how many tnimes can one be in the news?

  25. One and Done

    @Wow Just Wow. Correct you are sir. The mayor showed his true colors here early on in his term when he dressed down Mr. Hart at a council meeting for daring to publicly speak. Harry likes civility and free speech so long as it is on his terms. This is harassment plain and simple. No one should be surprised when the city ends up getting sued again.

  26. Joe Randall

    How is the boat 150 Passanger now? I thought it was 600?

    Do they rent Bullet proof vests prior to departure?

    1. Mark Chapman

      @Joe Randall

      The Coast Guard has certified it for 400+ for safety reasons. Not sure where someone got 150.

  27. Oldtimer

    I suspect the number of police cars may be a bit exaggerated, and some of them may have been working past their normal 3AM quitting time, earning overtime for a single hour. The rest were probably part of a regular scheduled shift and not on overtime. In an abundance of caution, the officers that should have ended a shift at 3 AM were held over in the reasonable belief that a significant police presence would prevent any major problem when the passengers got off the boat. Nobody has claimed management of the boat did anything wrong this time. Mr Hart is too quick to claim he is being picked on.

  28. @Oldtimer
    I estimated 18 police cruisers. It was dark and they were not lined up in a way that was easy to count but I am reasonably certain that is correct. I counted several times and took some photos to substantiate it.
    Officers who were out there referred to a “brawl” in reference to the earlier incident. That was after I asked about overtime. They said something about “safety” – meaning you don’t want an under-presence of police when 400 potentially unruly people are coming your way. It turned out that this crowd was quite pleasant. Some police officers left.
    I was out there maybe half an hour. I’m guessing there were 10 cruisers on scene when I left, although I did not count.

  29. One and Done.

    Another “brawl” and yet no arrests? More harassment and police overtime.

  30. One done

    Please….. Send that ugly unseaworthy barge back to Mississippi….

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