Neighbors of a man shot by police on Saturday evening were puzzled by the circumstances of the incident, saying the person accused of pulling a weapon on officers suffered from mental illness and had no violent tendencies.
Deborah O'Connell, a resident of 1110 Ocean Avenue, identified the man as 50-year-old Kevin Kenny, another resident in the apartment building. She said she formerly lived in an apartment next to Kenny for about eight months.
"I saw him yesterday and talked to him," she said. "He seemed fine."
Officers with the responded to 1110 Ocean Ave. shortly after 8 p.m. on Saturday after receiving a call that a shooting had taken place inside the building and that the shooter was still there, according to Deputy Chief Marshall Segar.
When police arrived, officers found a man outside the building who said he was the person police were looking for. Segar said police fired on the man after he took out a firearm, pointed it at officers, and refused to drop the weapon.
O'Connell described Kenny as an easy-going person who keeps to himself. She said Kenny suffers from a mental disorder but takes medication, sees a doctor, and goes to . She did not know the details of the illness, but said that Kenny has been depressed since the death of both of his parents and has some symptoms akin to obsessive-compulsive disorder such as repeatedly washing his hands.
O'Connell said she had started watching a movie when she heard shouting outside followed by eight to 10 bangs. She said she thought it was fireworks celebrating Memorial Day until she saw the flashing lights from police cars. She said police ordered residents out of their apartments, and they congregated in the front hallway.
Bill Parks, a resident at the building, said three police cars came to the building and estimated that another 12 to 15 cars arrived after the shooting occurred. He said the shots sounded like they were fired in quick succession by multiple officers.
“Everybody thought it was firecrackers until we saw the flashing lights,” said Parks.
Patty Cloutier, who lives next to the apartment building, said she didn’t believe Kenny has family in the area and may have depression or another mental illness. She said that she would not have expected that he would be involved in such an incident.
“He just kept to himself and said hi,” she said. “He loved my cats.”
Parks and O'Connell also said Kenny seemed depressed. Parks said he thought Kevin may have been attempting "suicide by cop." O'Connell said Kenny occasionally told her he was thinking of committing suicide in the past, but that he had not done so recently. O'Connell was also suprised to hear the report that he was armed when officers arrived.
"He never had a weapon," she said. "He didn't even have a serrated knife to cut a sandwich."
Parks said his vehicle, parked in front of the building, was struck by bullets at least twice. There were two bullet holes in the lower passenger side of the windshield, and a windshield wiper and panel near the windshield were also damaged.
Parks said emergency medical responders arrived quickly and treated Kenny on scene for about 10 minutes before he was taken to . Segar said Sunday morning that he was in stable condition. Michael O'Farrell, spokesman for the hospital, said Kenny was not listed as a patient. O'Connell said she tried to visit Kenny at the hospital and was told he was not able to see visitors while police continued their investigation.
"I think a serious mistake was made," said O'Connell. "I think Kevin made the first mistake if he made the call."
Segar said the Connecticut State Police are investigating the shooting, and that the officers involved in the shooting have been placed on administrative leave pending an internal investigation. The officers have not been identified.
Segar said the last officer-involved shooting in the city was Aug. 23, 1999, when Darrel Holeman, 42, was shot on Howard Street during a traffic stop. Police said Holman pulled a gun while he was being searched during the stop. Holman was killed.