Forever in Our Hearts

Brian Garnett, who covered crime and courts for WFSB in the 80s and 90s, reported for WPOP before that, and went on to serve as the state Correction Department’s Director of External Affairs, passed away this afternoon while in Hospice care. He was exceedingly private about his recent health issues so we’ll leave it there. Brian was kind and gruff and quick to get angry and very sentimental. His standards were high and it showed in his coverage of the big stories like the trials of Los Macheteros and Karen Aparo and the Hartford gang violence of the 90s. Pal Gerry Brooks has more. Recollections appreciated.

16 Responses

  1. I am so sorry to hear this.

  2. Brian worked for me at WNUS in West Springfield in the late 1970’s in what was, I think, his first professional job. He was a great guy. I’m stunned.

  3. I just posted a version of this to my friend Gerry Brooks’ Face Book Page:

    Truly, Gerry, I’m shocked. Honestly, I have Brian stories that tell to this day. We had some amazing experiences together. And, for all his rep as a guy who could go super nova but fast, he also paid me some of the highest compliments that I ever received as a TV news photographer. He was was brash, fast, dazzling and fierce. He made a hell of an impression. And I know (in fitting tribute to the guy when I think about it) that there are a lot of people out there who could have written exactly what I’ve just written here. Thinking of you Gerry, and of Brian G.

  4. So so sorry for Brian’s family. He was respectful of reporters’ deadlines and needs while remaining the consummate pro. A good and decent man. RIP

  5. Quality, served viewers well. RIP

  6. Brian was one of the best crime reporters I’d ever seen or worked with. Dedication was his middle name.

    Despite the loss of two of my own brothers, I am shocked and saddened at the loss of Brian — he was a constant beacon of integrity in journalism and public service.

    I remember during the ‘crack wars’ when Brian wouldn’t leave the WFSB newsroom without his bullet proof vest — he made sure the newsroom had several for us to use — and he was always the first out the door on breaking news.

    We all hated covering blizzards (I remember covering the blizzard of ’96 with him), but Brian would have seen it as appropriate that he passed on to the next life during one of the biggest news stories in recent Connecticut memory.

    The words of a classic Brian Garnett story ring in my ears, as a defendant was led into the courtroom, “shackled, sullen and silent…”

  7. Brian made everyone who competed against him a much better journalist. He raised the bar very high and never let it down.

  8. Brian Garnett was a reporter at heart. When he worked the streets of the Hartford region, he was easily one of the best reporters working the crime and courts beat. He was respected and trusted by law enforcement and provided WFSB viewers with important information aggressively reported. Those who worked along side Brian knew were you could find him early every weekday morning. He’d be on the phone, notebook on his desk, carefully writing down the events of the prior evening. His sources? Top cops, prosecutors and federal agents of the region.
    As a man he was gruff, but kind. Tough, but soft. Stern, but a guy who could really laugh. I know this he would not want too much sadness. He’d ask that you push on.

    Jeff Cole

  9. Brian was one of the best! He cared deeply for his craft. He was about getting it right. When I was a cub reporter he looked out for me and always gave me straight forward sound advice. We will miss him dearly. He was one of those beautiful souls.

  10. Brian was working for the DOC when our paths last crossed. I was one of the reporters picked to watch the Ross execution, Brian was my “contact” at the DOC. Always the consummate professional I could count on him to be straight, factual and available to answer any questions I might have about that which I was about to witness and the “timeline” of events. I can’t say we were ever friends.My loss. I can say I respected him and his work both as a reporter and later as a spokesman for the DOC.

  11. I am deeply saddened to hear of Brian’s passing. He was the best crime reporter in Connecticut for many years, earning the respect of police, prosecutors, and defense attorneys alike. As local TV news was devolving toward irrelevance, Brian held high the standards of journalism – digging for information, double-checking sources, searching for meaning. The gruffness people recall was Brian’s shield. He was intense when pursuing a story, always well focused. I knew him as a sharp, smart, and irreverently-funny guy who always knew more than he shared, because he understood the difference between newsgathering and rushing unverified information onto a broadcast. I hope that somewhere right now, Brian is sharing a drink and conversation with Jack Bailey or Billy Kearns.

  12. I had never seen his official State picture until this post. I’m so sorry I hadn’t. I could have given him interminable grief for it. And trust me, it wouldn’t have come close to what he dished out at me. 😉

  13. I have already expressed my sadness at Brian’s passing on the place it had to be, The Brooks File, but I wanted to add how much I agreed with Pat Sheehan’s assessment of Brian as a reporter who always knew more because he knew the difference between news gathering and the other kind. He stood out in a group that was so good, we always had to hire a bus to take all the WFSB nominees to the Emmys and Brian always came back with a statue,

    Dick Ahles

  14. Sending condolences, so sad, I remember him as quite the reporter on the street when first coming to this market, rest in peace, Brian

  15. Brian was my guiding light as a young journalist. He taught me so many things, including how and *why* we do some of the things we do, that may even go misunderstood. He taught me you could be funny and be serious all at the same time. Brian never once talked to me about beating the competition, he just did it. As if there was no other option. Everyone is remembering the tough and gruff stories – which I could, too. But, I remember a man with a big heart, and booming voice. He could do a ‘human interest’ story so well, we’d all be in tears watching. In later years, he would give me some on the best parenting advice in the whole world as we swapped stories. I will miss that. I will miss the way he said ‘hellllllllooooooooo’ the same way every time we talked. I will miss him so much. I already do.

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