Trial begins for IT worker accused of threatening former boss

July 07–STAMFORD — The former boss of a 28-year-old man accused of bringing a gun to his former place of work to demand his job back last year testified during a criminal trial Tuesday, saying she thought she was going be shot and killed during the ordeal.

“I really thought I was going to die,” the woman, an informational technology director at XL Capital in Stamford, said during emotional testimony. “I thought this was how I would meet my end.”

The woman, who is not being identified by name because she is a victim, took the stand in state Superior Court in Stamford and recalled the events of Oct. 2, 2009, when authorities say Joel D’Ort, a 28-year-old information technology worker from Allentown, Pa., tried to get his job back at XL Capital on Seaview Avenue and pulled out a handgun after his former boss tried to end the conversation.

The woman said she came back to her office after meeting with a colleague and found D’Ort there, wearing a suit and holding a slim briefcase. He asked her to sit and asked for his job back.

“I told him there was no job to give back since the entire team was outsourced,” the woman testified.

D’Ort rose, tried to push the office door closed and the woman became alarmed, she said. She tried to end the conversation and attempted to call someone from her office phone, but D’Ort ripped it from her hand. The woman looked up and saw a handgun pointed at her chest. D’Ort pulled back the slide on the handgun, cocking the weapon, the woman testified.

“He slid it and it made a sound like it did in the movies when someone is getting ready to shoot you,” the woman said.

The woman testified about trying to run out of her office, grabbing a slightly ajar door that D’Ort slammed on her hand, she said. D’Ort grabbed her by the throat, but she was able to wrestle free and run down the hallway to co-workers in a nearby conference room. She screamed as she ran and her co-workers called police.

The woman testified she expected to be shot as she ran down the hallway.

Police sent nearly 20 officers to the XL Capital building next to Shippan Avenue, some armed with riot shields and assault rifles. They found D’Ort at his former residence on Mohegan Avenue and discovered the handgun stashed in a ceiling tile in the fifth floor of the XL Capital offices, police have said.

D’Ort had been part of an information technology team that had been outsourced in June 2009, the woman testified. As a result, D’Ort was told he would be let go in two weeks. But D’Ort sent an e-mail criticizing his boss to her supervisor, causing the company to ask him to leave the offices sooner.

Stephan Seeger, the defense attorney representing D’Ort, questioned the victim over her workers’ compensation claim from the incident and tried to find discrepancies in the woman’s version of events in her testimony and the police statement taken after the incident.

D’Ort faces serious felony offenses, including first-degree kidnapping with a firearm, first-degree burglary and attempt to commit second-degree assault. He is being held at Bridgeport Correctional Center on a $99,000 bond. On the kidnapping charge alone, D’Ort faces a 10- to 25-year prison term.

Seeger said the trial will likely last a week. Several police officers are slated to testify after D’Ort’s former boss steps down from the witness stand.

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