Injured Norwich police officer recovering after shooting standoff
By Janice Steinhagen - Staff Writer
Norwich - posted Mon., Jan. 14, 2013
A Norwich police officer is back at home recovering from four gunshot wounds he sustained during a Jan. 7 stand-off with a gunman threatening suicide. Officer First Class Jonathan Ley was wounded during the standoff, which began just before 3 p.m. at the Cedar Glen Apartments on Cedar Street.
Norwich Chief of Police Louis Fusaro said that Ley, a 14–year veteran on the force and a Coast Guard veteran as well, was discharged from Yale–New Haven Hospital on Jan. 10, four days after the incident. He will be facing surgery on an injured hand as well as other issues, Fusaro said, adding that he had no timetable for Ley’s return to active duty on the police force. “I don’t think anybody has a sense of that yet,” he said. “We’re certainly hopeful that he’ll be able to return.”
The gunman, Jason Razzino, 30, eventually took his own life, despite the combined efforts of city police and two Connecticut State Police tactical squads. State Police Lt. Paul Vance said that Razzino was found in the bathroom of the apartment where he had holed up, dead of a single self-inflicted gunshot wound.
The police goal “was to get him to surrender peacefully, but we don’t have control over that,” said Fusaro. “I think what [the police officers] did was extremely heroic. The layout of the apartments was extremely difficult and dangerous.” The standoff didn’t end until early Tuesday morning, after nearly 12 hours.
According to Vance, Norwich police initially responded to the scene, where Razzino opened fire with a rifle and handgun. They requested help from the Troop E Major Crime Squad, which arrived along with two state police SWAT teams. Negotiators from both the Norwich and state police squads talked with the gunman in an attempt to get him to surrender peacefully, he said.
Residents of the neighborhood were evacuated during the standoff, with about two dozen residents going to a shelter set up for them at Kelly Middle School, Fusaro said. The evacuation was carried out to isolate the shooter and ensure the neighbors’ safety, he said.
The Troop E Major Crime Squad is still investigating the incident, said Vance. The squad will be interviewing the shooter’s “family, friends, anyone who can shed any light” on his motives.
Fusaro said that the Norwich Police Department conducts extensive training for its officers on handling such situations. “In recent years it’s been ramped up,” he said. One Norwich officer, Lt. Christopher Ferace, serves as a regional trainer on active shooter situations, and a significant number of Norwich officers have trained to serve on crisis intervention teams, he said. The focus of such training is on the psychological component: “how to bring people down in a crisis, how to de-escalate a situation. It’s been very successful, very helpful. It’s something [officers] can use every time somebody goes to this extreme,” Fusaro said.
As if the week were not trying enough for the city’s police force, two more officers were injured when a suspect they were pursuing and had lost unwittingly turned around, ran a stop sign and collided with their cruiser. The suspect, Romance Brown, 24, of Laurel Hill Avenue, in Norwich, had been pulled over by the officers in the Boswell Avenue area, but sped away after talking briefly with them. He managed to elude the officers initially, but in doing so he ended up turning around and colliding with their cruiser at the corner of Prospect and Tenth streets.
Officers Kenneth Wright and Christopher Nott were taken to Backus Hospital for treatment; Fusaro said that one of them, whom he did not identify, sustained a broken leg. Brown, who was also injured in the incident, was charged with reckless driving, interfering with an officer, failure to obey a stop sign and engaging police in pursuit, and was held on a $100,000 bond.
The cruiser was totaled, Fusaro said. “It’s been a long week,” he said.