Maria Durao, 78, was watering her garden Thursday morning when a passing jogger called her over to look at something suspicious on the front porch of the house across the street.
At first, Durao didn’t think much of seeing something strange on her neighbor’s front steps. Around Halloween, her neighbors had occasionally put out spooky decorations to celebrate the season.
“I went over there to see if it was [the victim] and it was,” Durao said. “She was all bloody.”
Durao’s account of finding her neighbor’s body is the first glimpse at what investigators are calling a homicide in the normally quiet Newington neighborhood.
Police said when they arrived just after 9 a.m., they found the woman’s body inside the glass front door of 52 Gilbert Road. A man was also inside the house. Police had not identified the man or the victim as of late Thursday afternoon.
Neighbors said after police arrived, they could hear the sounds of breaking glass, and crisis negotiators with loudspeakers calling out to the man in the house, “We know you’re in there” and “We want to help.” Neighbors said they saw the number of officers — many equipped with tactical gear or assault rifles — swell.
After reporting what she saw to the police, Durao said she went home and shut the doors. She watched as police arrived on scene.
“The police came and they were running around with guns … they were laying down across the street with guns pointed at the house,” Durao said. “Then the big truck came and they were calling him to come out, but he didn’t come out. So they broke the windows.”
The man was discovered inside the house just after noon. He had suffered serious injuries. Shortly afterward, police cleared the scene and an ambulance with the male suspect inside left the house with sirens blaring.
After securing the scene on Gilbert Road Thursday morning, Chief Stephen Clark said there was no longer a threat to the neighborhood.
When the incident was reported, police sent text alerts at 9:15 a.m. to residents urging them to shelter in place. Police told neighbors to go into their basements for cover.
Police set up barricades that blocked the scene from view, but curious neighbors poked their heads out from behind curtains or stepped out into their driveways to watch the action.
The residential neighborhood is home to both Newington High School and Martin Kellogg School students. However, schools were not in session Thursday because of Rosh Hashana.
Jon Trister, who lives on nearby Woodland Street, said the neighborhood is generally very quiet.
"When I heard all the cops, I thought 'No way are they coming down this street,'" Trister said. "But I guess you never know what people are going through."
One neighbor commented that the situation Thursday reminded him of a 2004 standoff after a domestic dispute that left Newington police Officer Peter J. Lavery dead.
Lavery entered the house and was shot by Bruce A. Carrier, a former prison guard with a long criminal record. Carrier committed suicide after a 12-hour standoff with police.
Police obtained search warrants for the home. The New Britain state’s attorney’s office and the state police were assisting, Clark said.
Staff writer Nicholas Rondinone and staff photographer Monica Jorge contributed to this report.