By Christine Dempsey
The Hartford Courant-Connecticut News
Five young men dressed as Ninja warriors who said they were frightened
by demons knocked on a pastor's door at 2 a.m. and wound up being
They said they had gone to Devil's Hopyard State Park in East Haddam
late Wednesday to practice martial arts when they encountered the
The men hopped into a car - weapons, masks and all - and drove
straight to the Manchester home of a church pastor whose wife, also
frightened, called police.
The five, Jeremy Sander, 19, of Ellington; Shaun Cyr, 18 of Newington;
Todd Silber, 23, and Paul Poniatowski, 18, both of Vernon; and Joseph
Robinson, 18, of East Hartford; said they came out of the woods early
Thursday morning panicked by what they saw and heard.
One of the men acknowleged that most will find their story hard to
``We're going to be outcasts,'' Silber said.
After a martial arts class in Tolland, they went to Devil's Hopyard
for more practice, they said. The men have varying degrees of martial
arts certification in kenpo karate and ninjitsu. They said they chose
the park because of the open space and trees that are perfect for
practicing stealth Ninja maneuvers, Silber said Friday. They swung
baseball bats through the air to build their muscles, they said.
Poniatowski said he suddenly heard his name being called in whispers.
He said he heard ``Paul . . . Paul . . . Leave now or you'll join us
At least one of his friends reported hearing it, too. Unnerved by the
sound, they decided to leave.
On the way out, Silber said, he heard laughter.
Robinson said he saw a beast-like demon sitting on a fence, although
he couldn't describe it in detail. Poniatowski said he saw a shadow
with a jagged edge.
Silber said he was thrown into the air and into a tree. He later found
four slash marks on his pants, he said.
Whatever Cyr saw, it was so frightening, he's not talking about it,
the men said.
At Cyr's request, Sander drove the group to Manchester, to the home of
Cyr's pastor, the Rev. David W. Bowser Sr. of the Church of the
Nazarene of Manchester. At 2 a.m., Cyr and Silber banged on the front
door while their friends waited in the car with a 38-inch samurai
sword, three knives, a club, four bats, dark-colored clothing and
masks, authorities said. The men said they had used the sword and
knives while practicing earlier in Tolland with a martial arts
``We just wanted to talk to the pastor because Shaun was pretty
spooked,'' Robinson said.
They weren't wearing Ninja-style masks when they went to the door,
Robinson said. But the Bowsers called the police anyway.
Officer Scott Ventura found an ``uncomfortable'' Bowser standing at
the front door with Cyr and Silber, he wrote in his report. Cyr and
Silber could not furnish formal identification, then Cyr refused to
cooperate and briefly struggled with Ventura, police said. Silber
tried to get in the middle of the struggle, police said. Ventura found
a knife clipped to Cyr's front pocket, police said.
Cyr then collapsed because of what his friends said was diabetes-
Police arrested all five men. It was back at the police station that
officers heard the ghost story. They reported finding no evidence the
men had been using drugs or alcohol.
Each was charged with breach of peace and carrying dangerous weapons.
Sander was also charged with having weapons in a motor vehicle, and
Cyr and Silber were charged with interfering with police. Each was
released on a $1,000 bond and was scheduled to appear in Manchester
Superior Court Nov. 17.
Robinson said Cyr later told him he tried to get away from Ventura
because the officer looked like the demon he had seen in the Hopyard.
Silber said he planned to return to the state park in the daylight to
look for signs that the park is haunted.
What about a nighttime return?
``Forget that,'' Silber said. ``I'm never going up there again.''
Jeff Rense Sightings
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