HARTFORD, CT—A man is dead and his female hostage is safe after a 19-hour armed standoff in Guilford ended Thursday morning, police said.
A neighborhood lockdown was lifted about 7:45 a.m., although a few streets in the area remained closed as state police continued to investigate.
The man’s fatal gunshot wound appears to be self-inflicted, Guilford Police Chief Warren “Butch” Hyatt said at a news conference, although the official cause and manner of death will be determined during the autopsy. He didn’t release the man’s name.
Earlier, roads were closed and area residents were asked to stay in their homes during the protracted standoff as hostage negotiators tried to get the man to peacefully come out of the house on Fitch Hill Road.
According to Hyatt, the standoff started about 12:30 p.m. Wednesday after firefighters responded to a 9-1-1 call about a structure fire on Durham Road, or Route 77. The firefighters arrived and saw smoke coming out of a house.
Before they could battle the blaze, “they were confronted at that location by a male, brandishing weapons, two weapons, long guns,” he said.
They backed off — which the chief said was the right move — and alerted police. The armed man got into a vehicle and took off, Hyatt said.
Police then got a call from a Fitch Hill Road address and learned that the armed man had gone there. Both houses are in the man’s family, Hyatt said.
It wasn’t long before police realized they had a hostage situation: A close relative called police to say she was being held against her will, he said.
“We had gotten a phone call from inside the house from the family member who indicated that he was there, and he was armed and they were being held inside the house,” Hyatt said.
Officers called hostage negotiators with a regional SWAT team and they tried for hours to convince the man to release the woman and come out peacefully, but the effort failed, Hyatt said.
About 3 a.m. Thursday, Guilford police called the state police to give the SWAT team a break “because of the amount of time that the officers had been out there on the scene, over 14 hours straight, through the day and the evening,” he said.
Despite repeated efforts, the state police SWAT team was not able to make contact with anyone inside the house, state police Lt. Alex Giannone said.
Then, after dawn, police heard what sounded like a woman crying out in distress, he said. They used what Hyatt referred to as “diversionary munition,” which made popping sounds to distract the armed man and they went into the home.
Giannone said troopers rescued the woman, and when they checked the house, they found the man on the second floor, dead of an apparent gunshot wound.
The woman had no obvious injuries but was taken to the hospital to be checked, he said.
Hyatt said the state police Major Crime Squad will conduct a thorough investigation.
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