The unusual story of a standout athlete and privileged young man from Trumbull who excelled in college before falling to drugs came to a head publicly July 21, 2012 when he was shot by a Milford resident trying to protect his home and himself from Prue.
“It was an evening like any other summer evening until— until — until it wasn’t,” said Senior Assistant State’s Attorney Charles Stango during court proceedings, which wrapped up in July.
Gerald Mirto, 68, was at his home, a water front home in one of Milford’s most affluent neighborhoods, “a home that he had worked a large part of his life to acquire,” according to a court transcript.
“He was there,” Stango said. “He heard a disturbance outside, and he came across Mr. Prue, who, as your Honor is aware, was stripped naked of his clothing, and on his property.”
Mirto told the court about the evening he still struggles to come to grips with. Prue, high on several potent drugs, according to court testimony, doesn’t remember it.
There was a cool breeze outside on that summer evening at about 10 p.m. and Mirto had his windows open. He heard a noise, and he went upstairs to get a better look at the ground around his home.
“And I saw a person on the seawall popping his head up and down, peeking — like he was peeking onto the property. I put a cell phone and a handgun in my pocket,” Mirto said.
Mirto had never fired that gun.
He saw Prue, naked, trying to get in a window of his house. Mirto asked the young man to leave. He thought the young man had been swimming and perhaps got disoriented.
Instead of leaving, Prue attacked him.
“It happened so fast, and he was so agile, and so quick. He was at my throat choking me. He was punching me. We struggled.”
Mirto said it was a lucky thing for him that he outweighed Prue quite a bit.
Mirto pushed Prue out of his living room and onto the deck. Prue fell down a step, and Mirto fell on top of him. Prue continued verbal threats, like, “I’m going to get you.”
Mirto said the whole thing was surreal — and “everything just slows down.” He tried to hold the young man, but Prue bit his arm and they skirmished more. Mirto got away from Prue, yelled for help, yelled for someone to call 9-1-1. But no one responded, and he pulled the small gun from his pocket and tried to shoot it in the air. It didn’t fire. As he reached for his cell phone, Prue attacked him again.
Mirto pushed back, and got Prue outside and kept telling the young man to “go, go, go.” At that point, Mirto thought he had gotten Prue to leave.
The homeowner then went inside, up the stairs, and grabbed another gun, another weapon he had never fired before, went downstairs and started to call 9-1-1.
“I couldn’t’ believe it, but he came back into the house, the second time, more threats. He started grabbing at things, and then he came toward me again, and I fired the gun,” Mirto said.
Mirto doesn’t know what happened immediately after, except that Prue was out of his house and according to testimony, he finally got to call 9-1-1.
When police arrived, they found Prue, injured and hiding in the water off the beach. He was taken to the hospital and later arrested, ending in part a traumatic event for Mirto.
Mirto told the court he lost his sense of security that night and likely won’t feel safe in his house again. A former high school counselor and school psychologist, Mirto said he didn’t want the court to be overly harsh on the young man with the drug problem — but he and his wife believed Prue should be punished appropriately for his actions.
“My sense of security, I don’t know if I’ll ever get that back,” he said. “I hate air conditioning, and now I have to close all the windows and doors. And you know, that nice cool breeze off the ocean, you know, I rarely get to experience. When I let my dog out at night in the back yard, is there someone there? It has traumatically affected me.”
Mirto and his attorney asked the court for a sentence of 12 years, suspended after 6, which was actually harsher than what the judge ultimately decreed.
Mirto and his attorney felt that would see the young man taking responsibility for his actions.
During court proceedings, Mirto said he and his attorney “didn’t want to be totally punitive, and aggressive, and felt that this young man could possibly, in the future, help other drug addicted people, that he might turn his life around, that he might even take some counseling for himself, and even do some counseling of young offenders, when he is released.”
In addition to the memories of being attacked that night, Mirto also struggles with memories of shooting Prue, Stango said.
“You don’t always take into consideration what happens to the person who pulls the trigger in a case like this,” Stango said.
Mirto said simply, “I am happy that he is not dead. I am happy that I am not dead.”
Editor’s Note: This article is the first of two parts. Part II will focus on testimony on behalf of Benjamin Prue and will appear in next week’s Milford Mirror.