Explosion Destroys Barn, Injures 9 During Police Standoff In Connecticut

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An explosion in a suburban neighborhood in North Haven, Conn., injured nine police officers on Wednesday, ending a standoff with a man who was suspected of holding his wife against her will.

The large explosion destroyed a barn in a house’s backyard and shook nearby homes. A fire then burned other structures at the property; they were “mostly extinguished” by Thursday morning, police said.

The woman who had been held captive is alive, having escaped the area where she had been held. The suspect’s fate is uncertain. Police searched for him overnight, and on Thursday, officials said they had found human remains at the site of the explosion — but that a positive identification has not yet been made.

State police are investigating the case, including the source and cause of the powerful explosion and large fire.

Many details, such as the victim’s condition and the suspect’s name, are being withheld as police wait to learn whether the suspect died in the blast. But after conflicting reports that the event had started with a hostage situation, North Haven Deputy Police Chief Jonathan Mulhern clarified on Thursday that the woman who reported the domestic violence “was not in the home at the time of this incident.”

Mulhern added that the police involvement began on Wednesday afternoon. That’s when, according to local TV news WFSB, a woman came to police to report that she had been held captive for several days, saying she’d managed to escape from her home in North Haven, a suburb that’s a few miles northeast of downtown New Haven.

After police got that report, they sent a tactical team to the house. There, they found the suspect had barricaded himself.

“For a few hours, the police department and SWAT team were trying to coax, in very gentle fashion, the individual out of the home,” North Haven First Selectman Michael Freda told local media last night. “And then, as our other police officers were checking some of the surrounding areas in back of the house, they entered into a barn, and that set off, apparently, some explosions. We don’t know if it was a booby trap bomb back there.”

Of the officers who were hurt, Deputy Police Chief Mulhern said, according to member station WNPR, “As you can imagine most of the injuries they’re experiencing are from the blast in and of itself and the injuries you would normally see with that.”

Nearby residents said the large explosion rattled their community.

“I felt my house shake,” DiMartino told the New Haven Register. “It felt like a bomb went off in my attic.”

“North Haven shook. I mean everyone heard it,” Nancy Sundwall told the paper. “The whole sky turned pitch black with smoke.”

On Thursday morning, Yale New Haven Hospital said it had received a total of nine patients related to “last night’s event in North Haven.” All of those patients are in fair condition, the hospital added.

Freda said it was very fortunate that officers had not suffered more serious injuries.

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