Vigil Sunday for Fairfield family

UPDATE, SATURDAY, 10:30 A.M. — The vigil scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 21, on the Fairfield Town Hall Green has been canceled.

A community struggling to understand tragedy that shattered a Fairfield family will come together Sunday, Feb. 21, for a vigil on the Fairfield Town Green.

The 6 p.m. event, sponsored by the Center for Family Justice and the Town Fairfield, will be held five days after a father was shot dead by police after he allegedly attacked his wife and three children with a baseball bat and a knife.

Christopher Andrews, 51, died after being shot outside his house at 22 Mountain Laurel Road by 26-year veteran Fairfield Police Officer Sean Fenton after Andrews refused to comply with commands to stop and continued to approach them with a weapon.

After the fatal confrontation in the driveway of the house at the corner of Mountain Laurel Road and Brookside Drive, police went inside the house and found 50-year-old Kathleen Andrews and the couple’s 13-year-old son both suffering from blunt force injuries and stab wounds. The son was airlifted to Yale-New Haven Hospital. The other children, ages 12 and 15, were also taken to the hospital with injuries and have since been released to the care of family members.

Police said there were no calls to the Andrews residence prior to what the Center for Family Justice CEO and President Debra Greenwood is calling “the single worst incident of domestic violence we have been called on to respond to” in her 9-year tenure.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, the survivors and the many residents of Fairfield who call them friends,” Greenwood said in a statement Wednesday. “We know they are part of a confused and heartbroken community today. And we are here to help.”

As is procedure, Officer Fenton has be reassigned from patrol duty while the incident is investigated by State Police and the State’s Attorney’s Office. There is also an internal investigation by Fairfield Police.

Fairfield Police Chief Gary MacNamara said Fenton’s actions prevented further injury Tuesday morning.

“We are grateful to our partners in law enforcement, in this case the Fairfield Police Department, who too often must stand in the direct line of fire when responding to domestic violence,” Greenwood said. “Domestic violence calls are among the most dangerous, unpredictable calls community police officers must make and we are grateful for the bravery of every officer who responds to this kind of incident.”

Those who knew Christopher Andrews, many through youth sports, expressed shock at the events that unfolded.

“Unfortunately and tragically, this situation illustrates in a heartbreaking way that domestic violence can and does impact any community and any family,” Greenwood said. “Last year, we served more than 256 victims of domestic violence in Fairfield; women, men and children directly impacted by this trauma in their lives. We served more than 8,000 clients in our service area including Bridgeport, Easton, Fairfield, Monroe, Stratford and Trumbull. We cannot stress this enough: This happens in families every day in every demographic. No one is immune.”

The New York Post reported Thursday that financial problems may have been present in the household.

Kathleen Andrews and the 13-year-old son were still in the hospital as of Thursday. A Go Fund Me account, Support the Andrews Family, had been established and as of early Thursday afternoon more than $150,000 had been donated toward its goal of $200,000.

“While there is much we don’t know about the circumstances which triggered today’s events, we do know that families and communities that experience this kind of family violence need our support and understanding as they heal,” Greenwood said.

Greenwood urged anyone feeling the impact of Tuesday’s incident to seek counseling.

Adding that there is yet no information on what was behind the violence, Greenwich listed risk factors that can be found in violent relationships.

“Learning these risk factors can save lives,” she said.

They include:

•        Has your abuser ever used a weapon against you or threatened you with a weapon?

•        Has your abuser every threatened to kill you or your children?

•        Do you think your abuser might try to kill you?

•        Has the verbal, emotional or physical violence increased in frequency or severity in the past 6 months?

•        Does your abuser have a gun or weapon s/he easily get one?

•        Has your abuser every tried to choke you?

•        Have you recently left, separated from or divorced your abuser?

•        If you are living in a violent, abusive home we urge you to seek help as soon as possible. The Center for Family Justice’s domestic violence hotline (203-384-9559) is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. All of help is free and confidential.