Norwich — City police officers were outside the apartment of Jason Razzino, trying to convince him not to harm himself, when he started shooting, hitting one officer, law enforcement sources said Tuesday.
The injured officer, Jonathan Ley, 38, was listed in fair condition Tuesday night at Yale-New Haven Hospital.
Police found Razzino in his bathroom, dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, ending a standoff that began Monday afternoon at the Cedar Glen Apartments on Cedar Street and continued into Tuesday morning.
Razzino, 30, first fired through the doorway of his apartment in Building D, and then, with officers trying to retreat, shot through a window, sources said. Police believe Ley was shot when Razzino fired through the window, sources said.
Under fire, the officers shot back, unable to find adequate cover on the exposed walkway outside Razzino's third-floor apartment, just a few feet from an open stairwell and to the closest exit.
Three other officers were injured. One fell down the stairs and two others were struck by bullet fragments, causing minor injuries, the sources said.
Police said Razzino shot a rifle and handguns at the officers. Sources said he had at least three weapons — a Mini-14 rifle, which is a lightweight semi-automatic gun, and two handguns. State police would not say whether Razzino had a permit for the weapons.
Dozens of rounds were exchanged, according to sources and witnesses, and in the midst of that chaos, Ley was carried down the stairs by his fellow officers and taken to safety in Building C nearby.
Shortly after hearing the gunfire, Amanda Norman, who lives on the second floor of Building D but had been evacuated to the rental office in Building C, saw police running while carrying the bleeding Ley.
"I heard them say, 'We need more guns. We have an officer down.' It all happened pretty fast," she said.
Norman's 14-year-old sister, Taha, saw Ley's bleeding body and suffered a stress seizure. She was treated The William W. Backus Hospital and later released.
Ley's bullet-proof vest had been cut off, witnesses said. Sources said he had been shot multiple times, including in his hand and leg. He initially was taken to Backus Hospital and then was flown by Life Star to Yale-New Haven Hospital.
SWAT teams called in
When police responded to Razzino's apartment, they knew they were dealing with an armed and suicidal man.
Police quickly began to evacuate his neighbors in Building D, while residents in other buildings were told to stay inside. No one was let in.
Police said they quickly came to the conclusion that Razzino was intent on committing "suicide by cop."
Capt. LJ Fusaro, commander of the state police Tactical Unit, said the state's two SWAT teams responded to the scene, the first around 4 p.m. Fusaro said state police provided cover to get the officers out of the "threat area."
He said numerous techniques were used to try to get Razzino to surrender, but he would not elaborate.
What appeared to be a single gunshot was heard around 10:15 p.m. Monday night, and more loud bangs were heard from the scene after 11 p.m. Police later said officers had at one point "gassed" the apartment and had seen no movement from Razzino. It's unclear when exactly that was during the ordeal and when Razzino took his life.
Norwich police said Tuesday that state police were in charge of the scene. Investigators carrying clipboards spent Tuesday morning combing the grounds near Building D, marking spots on the ground with small evidence cones and measuring distances using a tape wheel. What appeared to be a black vest with straps cut off lay in the rear parking lot near the rental office door. Two evidence markers numbered 1 and 2 were placed near the object.
Apartments still off limits
Norwich Emergency Management Director Gene Arters said 25 Cedar Glen tenants stayed overnight at a shelter set up at Kelly Middle School.
Norman and her family were among them. On Tuesday, wrapped in an American Red Cross blanket, she stood outside the complex wondering when she would be able to return to her apartment.
Tenants in the affected areas of the complex are not being allowed to return because the area remains a crime scene. Arters said the city is arranging for hotel rooms for those who do not have local family or friends with whom they can stay.
Norman said about 10 to 15 minutes prior to being evacuated, her twin brother saw Razzino outside his apartment, smoking a cigarette. She said there was no indication that Razzino was suicidal.
Norman said Razzino had a pregnant girlfriend in the military service. Police said the girlfriend was not in the apartment but that she spoke to police during the standoff, and confirmed that Razzino was suicidal and homicidal. Police also spoke with Razzino's mother, hoping that would diffuse the situation.
Razzino does not appear to have a criminal record in Connecticut. He is originally from Rhode Island and it appears that he had only motor vehicle violations in that state.
Police said that during the standoff, Razzino was monitoring the situation on Facebook and other social media.
His last entry at 3:34 p.m. Monday, in the midst of the standoff, was "Let's bang it out..."
Day Staff Writers Claire Bessette, Sasha Goldstein and Greg Smith contributed to this report.