National News

Explosion During Police Standoff in Connecticut Injures Several Officers

Posted May 3, 2018 2:35 a.m. EDT
Updated May 3, 2018 2:36 a.m. EDT

Several police officers were injured in a large explosion Wednesday evening during a standoff with a barricaded suspect in North Haven, Connecticut, officials said.

The explosion was so powerful that residents up to a mile away said their homes shook. The property where it happened burst into flames and was still burning more than four hours later, filling the neighborhood with smoke.

Yale New Haven Hospital confirmed on Twitter that it had received seven patients. The town’s first selectman, Michael J. Freda, and its third selectman, Sally J. Buemi, said the injuries were not life-threatening.

The North Haven Police Department had responded to the scene several hours earlier in response to a domestic violence call. Freda said the suspect had barricaded his wife inside their house, which property records indicate is owned by John and Deborah Sayre.

A SWAT team was subsequently called in, and officers tried to “gently and compassionately coax the individual out of his home,” Freda said, but the man would not come out. Then the emergency responders went around back, where there was a barn, and “when they entered the barn,” he said, “the barn exploded.”

Buemi said she felt the blast in her own home about three-quarters of a mile away.

Another explosion followed about 20 minutes later, Freda said. He added that officials believed the blasts were from explosive devices, not an accidental cause like a gas leak.

The woman escaped, but the man’s location was unknown, Freda said, adding that it was possible he was still inside. The investigation was turned over to the Connecticut State Police.

“We heard a loud noise,” said Sandra Celano, who lives nearby. “It sounded like a large — like a bomb. That’s how I can describe it. It shook the house. Pretty scary.”

Celano went outside after hearing the explosion, she said, but around 15 minutes later, officers told her and other residents to go back inside for their safety.

Another neighbor, Carol Ann Phelps, lives about three-tenths of a mile from the explosion but said it was so loud that she initially thought it might have come from her own basement. Reached by phone around 30 minutes later, she said the street was teeming with emergency vehicles.

“I couldn’t tell you how many police are right here,” she said.