NAUGATUCK — A 40-year-old Naugatuck man is suspected of killing a woman in Southington before driving to the parking lot of the Naugatuck Police Department where he shot and wounded himself on Sunday, authorities said.
Southington police found Michelle Barrett, 41, dead in the backyard of her grandmother’s home at 58 Manor Road in the Plantsville section of town shortly after 6 a.m. Sunday. Officers were responding to a request from Naugatuck police to conduct a welfare check at the home.
Lt. Stephen Elliott, spokesman for the Southington Police Department, said Barrett was shot once in the backyard with a .38 revolver. The incident is being investigated as a homicide.
Police identified the suspected shooter as Robert DeSantis of Naugatuck.
Elliott said Barrett and DeSantis were formerly in a relationship and that they both have children, but none together.
The events that led up to the shooting and the motive remain unclear.
“We don’t know what the motive is,” Elliott said at a Monday morning press conference. “We just know at one time they were a couple.”
On Monday afternoon, there were no signs of what occurred just a day earlier on Manor Road. The neighborhood was quiet and residents jogged along the residential streets.
Barrett was living at the home, and her grandmother was home and asleep at the time of the shooting, Elliot said. She was the only other person home and wasn’t harmed, he said.
Elliott said neighbors reported hearing noises at about 1 a.m. on Sunday, but the exact time of the shooting is under investigation.
Elliott said DeSantis called a family member and confessed to shooting Barrett, and the family member then called Naugatuck police to report a possible homicide.
Naugatuck police spokesman Lt. Bryan Cammarata said the department received the call around 5:30 a.m. and the caller said DeSantis may be heading to the department to turn himself in. The family member provided a description of the car DeSantis was driving, Cammarata said.
The dispatcher on duty noticed on the video feed from surveillance cameras that a car fitting that description was in the parking lot. When officers started to approach the car, Cammarata said DeSantis shot himself in the head. DeSantis was rushed to the hospital where suffered what Elliot described as “serious” injuries.
At the time, officers were still unsure whether a homicide occurred. Cammarata said officers searched DeSantis’ home at 27 Corn Tassle Road in Naugatuck and found nothing. The investigation led back to the home on Manor Road in Plantsville, and Naugatuck police asked Southington police to conduct a welfare check.
Elliott said DeSantis didn’t have any weapons registered to him. How he got the handgun and to whom it belongs is under investigation, he said.
DeSantis worked at Ferrari’s Appliance on Rubber Avenue for years before an injury left him unable to work, according to an unemployment claim he filed in 2016. In the claim, DeSantis said he was driving a vehicle for Ferrari’s Appliance when the brakes failed, resulting in a crash. He needed back surgery and was left permanently disabled, according to the document.
DeSantis’ record includes arrests for violation of probation, third-degree assault, unlawful restraint and disorderly conduct.
The Republican-American contributed to this report.
This story has been updated from the original post.