Hostage-Taker Kills Policeman, Self

A former state corrections officer shot and killed a police officer in a domestic violence call that turned into an ambush, then turned the gun on himself after a standoff with police.

Police found the bodies Friday afternoon, about 14 hours after the standoff began Thursday night, but it was unclear when the gunman killed himself. Police last had contact with him about 3 a.m.

When Newington (search) police Officer Peter Lavery and another officer responded to a domestic violence call at the house, a woman answered the door and told the officers that a man was in her basement, police said.

Neighbors said the couple were boyfriend and girlfriend.

When the officers walked down the stairs, the man opened fire with an assault weapon, striking Lavery at least once, police said. The other officer and the woman escaped and called for assistance.

State and area police rushed to the Hartford (search) suburb. Leonard Boyle, state public safety commissioner, said once a state police tactical team entered the first floor Thursday night, it became clear that Lavery was probably dead.

Some neighbors were evacuated overnight on school buses. Sue Erwin, who lives nearby but was not among those evacuated, said she heard shots and booms throughout the night. She also saw other neighbors coughing as they left their homes late Thursday.

"It's a devastating thing for the neighborhood," said Chris Clafey.

For much of Friday afternoon, the tactical team was on the first floor of the home where the siege took place; the gunman and his hostage were holed up in the basement. Police used various methods to force the gunman out, including tear gas (search) and water from a hose.

Police did not identify the former corrections officer. A spokesman for the Department of Correction said he had been fired in 1999.

Boyle said the incident is still under investigation.

Boyle said Lavery received at least one gunshot wound. He did not say whether the officer was wearing a bulletproof vest. The state medical examiner's officer is determining the cause of death.

Lavery, 47, had been on the Newington force for more than 17 years. He was married with two children. He is believed to be the first Newington officer killed in the line of duty.

"The department is very depressed and distraught at this time. He was well-loved and will be missed greatly," said Police Chief Richard Mulhall.