I-84 east in Hartford reopens after person shot on highway - WFSB 3 Connecticut

I-84 east in Hartford reopens after person shot on highway

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A shooting was reported on I-84 east in Hartford Friday morning. (Chris Z/iWitness photo) A shooting was reported on I-84 east in Hartford Friday morning. (Chris Z/iWitness photo)
The vehicle that was reportedly on fire was a van. (WFSB photo) The vehicle that was reportedly on fire was a van. (WFSB photo)
(DOT photo) (DOT photo)
HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) -

Interstate 84 in Hartford was closed for hours on Friday after police said he shot himself following a car fire on the highway. 

Troopers were called to a van fire on the eastbound side of the I-84 in the area of exit 46 just after 10:30 a.m. Upon arrival, police said they found a Bristol man with a gun outside of the van and walking eastbound.

When two members of the Hartford Fire Department as well as three Connecticut State Troopers approached him and tried to talk to him, police said the man shot himself.

"When they got there they saw a man walking eastbound with a fire arm," Trooper Tyler Weerden said. "They attempted to make contact with him however he shot himself."

The man, whose name was not released by police, was rushed to St. Francis hospital. Police said the man is alive after being treated for the self-inflicted gunshot wound.

State police said there was no officer-involved shooting. They said an individual was shot himself. State police said the man was not threatening. He had been walking near the van with the gun in his hand.

Eyewitnesses reported a "popping" noise coming from the back of the van during the fire. It's not clear what sparked the fire.

"At the time of the initial incident there were also reports of suspected gunfire in the area at the time. It is currently unknown if those reports were in fact gunfire, ammunition in the vehicle exploding or the sound of vehicle components exploding due to the fire," state police said in a statement on Friday. 

"Due to the nature of this incident and out of an abundance of caution," police said "an explosives ordinance robot" was used to search the van before firefighters could put out the fire.

Hartford police said a gun has been secured and that the scene is safe.

Connecticut State Police said the Central District Major Crime Squad working with the Bristol Police Department in their investigation. The investigation is "ongoing."

 "We want to stress that there is no threat to the community at this time," state police said. 

Anyone with any information is asked to call state police at 860-534-1000 or text “TIP711 w/ info” to 274637. State police said "calls and texts will remain confidential."

State police said the highway was closed between exits 46 and 48. The highway reopened around 2:15 p.m.

The backup was said to be several miles long. Eyewitness News spoke to travelers stuck in the traffic, many of whom saw the flames shooting out of the van.

"We just saw some smoke and we looked up and there was a van engulfed in flames," said Ron Pitz, an eyewitness. "We didn't really know what was going on. There seemed to be police everywhere. So we figured that it wasn't just a van fire. Something else was happening."

The westbound side was also shut down, but briefly. Traffic on that side remained slow-going around 10:50 a.m. It picked back up a short time later.

State police also said they were rerouting commuters on the on and off ramps in the area. They said the traffic is a mess. 

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