NORTH HAVEN, CT (WCMH/WTNH/AP) — A fiery explosion rocked a Connecticut town while police were negotiating with a man who had taken his wife hostage, leaving up to nine officers injured, officials said.
North Haven First Selectman Michael J. Freda said in a press conference Wednesday that it started with a wife was being barricaded in the home for three days. The woman was able to escape the home, but the husband had barricaded himself inside. He has not been taken into police custody.
Several SWAT members had gotten close to the residence and were ready to go inside when a barn at the home exploded.
Police say nine members of a regional SWAT Team were injured in the explosion. All their injuries were consistent with the blast. They are all listed in fair condition.
Police say once the fire was extinguished, they found human remains of a person in one of the structures. The remains have not been identified at this time, so it is unknown if they belong to the suspect.
The FBI and the State Police Major Crime Squad also responded to the scene with mutual aid.
A witnesses told NBC4 sister station WTNH that they heard gun shots coming from the house.
“We had just gotten done eating dinner, we got up, we heard the explosion, it knocked my wife to the floor,” said one neighbor. “I huddled my family into the bedroom, locked the door, and came out to see what was going on. You could see the house was fully engulfed, you could hear the rounds popping off, I guess he had ammunition in there.”
A neighbor said police officers told neighbors to get in their houses, as more explosions might happen.
“You could hear them every couple of minutes or so over the loudspeaker, just saying, ‘John, please come to the window, please show yourself, we are here to help.’ You could tell they were doing everything they could to have a peaceful solution to this.”
“Right around 8:15, 8:30, a flash went off. The explosion went right through the windows, and hit my roof, and my whole house shook,” said one neighbor. “We were freaking out. I thought my life was going to end.”
Residents near the home said on the police department’s Facebook page that they heard the explosion and felt their own homes shake. Additional police rushed to the scene as the fire raged, and sounds of smaller explosions also were heard.
North Haven resident Joan Mazurek, 76, a retired accountant, heard what she thought was a train at her home about a mile away from the scene. It was the explosion.
“Then we heard all the, oh my God, all the ambulances and fire engines. The noise from all the emergency vehicles was unbelievable,” she said. “It’s a shock. Nothing ever happens like this in North Haven.”
The blaze was still burning early Thursday, said fire officials, adding that power was out to the area and a local firehouse had been set up as a “refuge” for affected residents.
State police said they were assisting North Haven police with the investigation. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives also responded to the scene.
North Haven is located just outside of New Haven, home to Yale University.