Suspect found dead following 7-hour police standoff in Branford

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BRANFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — A suspect is dead following a 7-hour-long shooter situation in Branford Tuesday afternoon.

Police were still on the scene early Wednesday morning.

Police said calls came in starting at 12:03 p.m. reporting an active shooter in the area of Main Street and Cherry Hill Road. Upon arrival, responding officers encountered heavy gunfire coming from the upper floors of a business/apartment building.

Branford police say that several police agencies, including the Connecticut State Police and the South Central Regional SWAT Team, assisted.

They evacuated some residents in the area and said it was unsafe and urged the public to stay away.

Witnesses tell News 8 that they saw people running in the street and that police were urging everyone in the area to take cover.

Brian Choronzy, a neighbor, described, “I heard what sounded like gunshots, which is pretty unusual for this neighborhood, and they just continued increasing in frequency. And then, cops showed up in my neighborhood, blocked off all the streets, and told us to lock our doors and stay inside; everything. We could see more and more cops arriving on the scene, adding tactical gear, pulling out semi-automatic rifles. Looked like it was a pretty big situation. And about five minutes ago, they knocked on the door as the snipers positioned on my front lawn had asked myself and my roommate if we would be willing to leave. And, now I’m here…Growing up in this small town, you think ‘oh that’ll never happen here.’ But here we are.”

Witnesses tell News 8 that a man was barricaded inside of a hair salon and was opening fire on police officers.

Branford PD confirmed to News 8 around 4:30 p.m. that there was one gunshot victim with non-life-threatening injuries who had been transported to the hospital and is expected to survive.

Officers continued to face heavy gunfire and were pinned down until armored BearCat vehicles arrived.

A source told News 8 the Bomb Squad also arrived on the scene because the suspect was allegedly threatening to blow up the building in which he has barricaded himself.

SWAT was on the scene working toward a peaceful resolution.

Witnesses were sheltered in place inside of a laundromat, located in a nearby shopping plaza, and they said that police have told them to take cover.

Witnesses also told News 8 that they could see through the windows that police are trying to surround the building with the gunman inside but since he was opening fire, they had not been able to completely surround it.

News 8 spoke exclusively with a woman sheltering in place the laundromat. When we spoke with Jeanine, she had been there for about five hours: “It was getting really, really close, so the lady at the laundromat said ‘he’s starting to shoot around the parking lot’ so the cops came in the store and told everyone to go in the back and don’t go by the window.”

Charles Steinberg, the owner of Branford Jewelers located in the nearby plaza, told us his shop locked down moments after realizing they were near an active shooter situation.

“We heard the popping and heard some banging and we just locked everything down. That was it, that was the end of our day…This usually doesn’t happen on the shoreline at all, you never really hear things like this going on, so it’s sad to see it happen here.”

There were several road closures in the area, including the Exit 53 off-ramp of Interstate-95. Route 146 in both directions was closed at North Harbor Street due to the police activity.

Just before 7 p.m., police told residents it was safe to go back into their houses nearly seven hours after the stand-off began.

And just after 7 p.m., State Police announced the area of Main Street in Branford is clear and the scene is safe. They said there is no further threat to the public.

The ramp of I-95 at Exit 53 has been reopened. Main Street near Cherry Hill will remain closed until further notice.

Around 7:20 p.m., Branford Police reported the shooter was found dead inside the building in which he had barricaded himself. Police have not released the gunman’s name, and are not saying how he died.

This is an active investigation. The New Haven State’s Attorney and Connecticut State Police Major Crimes stayed on-site to continue processing the scenes.

Check back for more updates.

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