HARTFORD, Conn. -- Alfredo Ferrer hurtled down the stairs outside his Hartford, Conn., apartment late Monday afternoon in a blood-spattered shirt with his toddler in his arms, yelling, "I killed her! I killed her!" a neighbor said Tuesday.
Ferrer was charged with attempted murder Tuesday after allegedly shooting his pregnant girlfriend in front of their two young children, then holding police at bay for an hour in Coventry Village Monday evening.
Amanda Realie, 27, remained in critical condition Tuesday evening at Hartford Hospital. Authorities said she was on life support. The children were placed in protective custody.
The portrait of the 43-year-old Ferrer that began to emerge Tuesday was that of a convicted felon, a fugitive from justice for more than a decade and a registered sex offender who had struggled with heroin use.
Recounting the commotion that erupted in their Main Street apartment building late Monday afternoon, the couple's downstairs neighbor, Sarah Peck, said she had run outside her apartment, thinking one of Ferrer's two sons had been hurt. Ferrer was in a state of panic, Peck said, and another man ran from Ferrer's apartment after him, hollering, "She's still breathing. Call an ambulance."
Ferrer urged Peck, a medical worker, to check his girlfriend upstairs and see if she was still breathing, Peck said, but instead she ran back into her apartment and called 911. The dispatcher warned her Ferrer was armed.
When Peck went back outside, she said, Ferrer showed her a small firearm and said, "I'm not going to hurt you."
Peck had not heard shots. "I didn't think he actually shot her until he took the gun out of his pocket," she said.
Suddenly fearful, Peck ran back inside her apartment, locked the door and climbed out a bedroom window to meet her boyfriend, Patrick Hines, across Main Street.
Hines told her that on his way to an errand, he ran into a frantic Ferrer, who said, "Take the baby. I'm going to kill myself."
Hines responded, "No, no, you're just talking crazy," Peck recalled.
A half-hour before the shooting, Peck said, Realie had used her phone while Ferrer was on their phone upstairs. Realie, several months pregnant, had told Peck a couple of months earlier that she was planning to leave Ferrer.
"He didn't seem like the type of guy ... he was always happy, friendly," Peck said.
Paroled from prison in 2004, Ferrer was working as a dishwasher at the Bidwell Tavern and Cafe near his apartment. A court official said he was attending a methadone clinic in Hartford in an effort to stay off heroin.
Ferrer, 43, told detectives he had gotten into an argument with Realie Monday over her use of heroin and briefly left their apartment, behind a Main Street liquor store, and went down the street to the tavern to ask for the night off.
"When Ferrer returned to his apartment, [Realie] called him a 'sex offender,' and it made Ferrer mad, aggravated and upset," state police Det. Rafael Medino III wrote in a brief account of the incident that Superior Court Judge Carl J. Schuman reviewed at Ferrer's arraignment in Rockville Tuesday.
Ferrer said Realie then told him her two sons were not his. He got angrier and went to their bedroom and smashed his religious statues, Ferrer told police.
"Look at what you made me do," Ferrer said he told Realie. "The devil is in me."
Ferrer then scooped up his 2-year-old son with one hand and pulled a .38-caliber revolver from a drawer with the other while Realie tried to escape through the apartment's front door, he told police.
Ferrer claimed that he tried to strike Realie in the face with the cocked pistol, but that she swung at it and the gun went off, a bullet hitting her in the face. Realie fell to the floor as her 5-year-old son screamed.
At his arraignment, Ferrer was dressed in a red sweat suit and shuffled slowly into court. His eyes were closed and his head was tipped back.
Throughout the brief proceedings, Ferrer seemed to be in a daze and was unsteady on his feet. The chief marshal held Ferrer's left arm to steady him.
At the end of the arraignment, he nearly fell backward. Ferrer cried a bit, but otherwise showed little emotion and did not speak.
Ferrer was charged with criminal attempt to commit murder, first-degree assault, assault on a pregnant woman, breach of peace, criminal possession of a firearm, criminal use of a firearm, unlawful discharge of a firearm, two counts of risk of injury to a minor and three counts of reckless endangerment.
When he was arrested Monday night, Ferrer was on probation as a result of a 1989 conviction for second-degree sexual assault and risk of injury to a minor. He had been sentenced to seven years in prison, but had served only about a year and a half when he escaped in January 1991.
Ferrer had been given a furlough pass from the old Litchfield jail to attend an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting in the Bantam section of the town.
At the meeting, Ferrer complained that he was sick and kept stepping out to the restroom.
When the meeting ended, he was gone.
Ferrer remained at large until October 2002, when police in New York City, where he had been living, arrested him on a marijuana possession charge and found that he was wanted in Connecticut. He was subsequently convicted in Connecticut of first-degree escape.
He was returned to prison in Connecticut and was released in 2005.
Ferrer also has a criminal conviction for sale of narcotics and remains on the state sex offender registry.
Schuman set bail at $1.25 million and ordered that Ferrer be watched for signs of drug withdrawal.
His public defender, Lisa Bennett, asked that Ferrer be placed in protective custody. Ferrer is due back in court April 25.
During Monday's standoff, Ferrer - still holding his 2-year-old son, Anthony - threatened to kill himself in a parking lot behind the Bidwell Tavern. Inside the tavern, patrons were shepherded to the front bar area and later to the basement, one of the patrons said.
The couple's 5-year-old son, Alfredo, was brought to the basement and waitresses tried to comfort him.
"My daddy killed my mommy," he told them, witnesses reported.
By late morning Tuesday, all signs of a police scene were gone, except for a scrap of yellow tape at the end of the second floor apartments.
At Apt. 32 - Ferrer's and Realie's - a plaque hung on the door, reading, "May God Bless My Home."
In the past two years, the couple and Peck and Hines often spent time together outside the apartments behind the Bidwell Spirit Shoppe, playing with the children. Ferrer told the neighbors he was on the state sex offender registry and said he and Realie planned to move to New York once his parole was finished, Peck said.
"They would tell us that all the time," she recalled.
Five-year-old Alfredo loved Peck's cats and often walked into her apartment to play games. The family recently acquired its own cat, a black feline they named Midnight, Peck said.
After the shooting, Peck and Hines went down Main Street to wait at a safe distance in front of the library until police let them return to their home about 10 p.m. An officer finished taking their statements at 1 a.m.
Peck missed work Monday night on the third shift at Natchaug Hospital in nearby Mansfield, where she works with emotionally disturbed children.
"I was just saying to a friend of mine at work, I never have drama in my life," she said.Contact Stephanie Summers at email@example.com