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Police officer taken hostage, shot dead

Gunman then killed himself in Conn. home

NEWINGTON, Conn. -- A former state corrections officer shot and killed a police officer on a domestic violence call that turned into an ambush, then turned the gun on himself after a 14-hour standoff with police.

Police found the bodies of Officer Peter Lavery and the shooter yesterday afternoon after hours of negotiations failed to bring the gunman's surrender. Police are unsure when the gunman killed himself.

When Lavery and another officer arrived at the house late Thursday night, a woman answered the door and directed them to the basement. ''As they proceeded in that direction, they were savagely attacked with an assault rifle," Chief Richard C. Mulhall said.

Police did not identify the couple, but neighbors said they were boyfriend and girlfriend.

Lavery, 47, was shot at least once, police said. The other officer and the woman escaped and called police.

Residents of the suburban Hartford neighborhood were evacuated onto school buses.

Police entered the first floor of the house late Thursday night and found that the shooter was holed up in the basement. State Police negotiators spent hours trying to persuade the gunman to release Lavery.

When negotiations broke down, police sent tear gas, then water into the basement, trying to force the man upstairs. After both tactics failed, police stormed the basement yesterday afternoon. They found both men dead and discovered ''significant weaponry" in the home, State Police Sergeant J. Paul Vance said.

Lavery, of Berlin, had been on the Newington force for more than 17 years. A master patrolman, he was married with two children and comes from a family of police officers. He is believed to be the first Newington officer killed in the line of duty.

Police now suspect Lavery died shortly after he was shot, Public Safety Commissioner Leonard Boyle said. Boyle did not say whether Lavery was wearing a bulletproof vest. The state medical examiner's officer is determining the cause of death.

Police planned to release the shooter's name today. A spokesman for the Department of Correction said that agency had fired the man in 1999.

Funeral arrangements were being made last night.

Officers were to remain at the house through the night.

''It's a devastating thing for the neighborhood," said neighbor Chris Clafey. ''I know those of us evacuated were really scared. Now, I feel more sad."

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