Norwich — A police officer shot a man in the parking lot outside the emergency room of The William W. Backus Hospital Tuesday morning after the man nearly ran over his mother and drove his car into the officer and his cruiser, police said.
Police Chief Louis Fusaro said police were at the scene of an unrelated standoff with an armed man on Everett Street (see story on B1) when they got the call about a distraught man who had barricaded himself in his car at the hospital.
Police officers at the hospital blocked the man’s car with their cruisers. As they were talking with the man, he suddenly backed into one of the cruisers and pulled forward, driving at the man’s mother and the officer, state police said. An officer pushed the woman out of harm’s way and drew his weapon, police said. The man’s car mirror struck the officer, and the officer fired his weapon, striking the man.
The shooting occurred shortly after 6 a.m. The man was treated for a gunshot wound that was not deemed to be life-threatening, according to state police. The officer was also treated at the hospital.
The officer was also at the Everett Street standoff, Fusaro said, before he responded to Backus.
As is routine when an officer discharges his weapon, Fusaro said the state’s attorney’s office was called in, and state police are handling the investigation. The officer was placed on administrative leave as a matter of protocol, Fusaro said, and will need time to recover.
Lt. J. Paul Vance, state police spokesman, said the officer involved in the shooting would be identified today. The man in the car will not be identified until an arrest is made, Vance said. Any arrest would be made by state police, he said, but not until the incident is investigated.
Vance did not say what charges the man could face.
The emergency room early Tuesday morning was empty. A woman, who only identified herself as Yolanda, said she could not leave the hospital because her car was blocked off by crime scene tape.
She said she drove her daughter, who was not feeling well, to the hospital around 5:30 a.m.
“I saw police talk to the man,” Yolanda said. “His window was slightly open. There were nurses and security outside. I didn’t think much of it.”
Yolanda said when she went back outside about 20 minutes later, she heard that there had been a shooting.
“I just couldn’t believe it,” she said.
Tuesday’s shooting is the second officer-involved shooting in the city this year. On Feb. 7, Officer Greg McDonald, a nine-year veteran, shot Fernando Velasquez after several officers responded to a report of a fight outside 89 Oneco St., where Velasquez lives. McDonald was initially placed on administrative leave but has since been reassigned to desk duty. The incident remains under investigation.
The altercation Tuesday was contained to the parking lot outside the emergency room, according to Keith Fontaine, the hospital’s chief administrative officer. The hospital never went into lockdown or enacted its emergency plan, and it remained open, Fontaine said.
A state police major crime squad van was parked inside the cordoned section of the parking lot.
Four state police officers, wearing blue booties and rubber gloves, walked to crime scene markers where the suspect’s black, four-door Toyota sedan had been parked. The driver’s front door had two visible bullet holes, and a bloody shirt lay on the floor near the passenger front door.
Day Staff Writer Sasha Goldstein contributed to this report.