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Suicide victim in police standoff identified as Pawcatuck man

By Joe Wojtas and Jennifer McDermott

Publication: The Day

Published March 18. 2013 4:00AM   Updated March 19. 2013 9:40PM

Stonington - Police have identified the man who died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound Saturday night following an armed standoff with them on White Rock Road as Paul Menard, 52, of 16 Palmer St. in Pawcatuck.

Police responded to what appeared to be a one-car accident on White Rock Road at 7:20 p.m., according to police Capt. Jerry Desmond. A witness had reported that a man involved in the accident had fired his weapon.

During the standoff, about 20 police officers from Stonington and Westerly as well as state police surrounded Menard, who remained near his pickup truck off the side of the road. Police could be heard yelling at him to drop his handgun.

Menard did not comply, Desmond said. He appeared intoxicated and got in and out of his truck several times during the attempted negotiations, Desmond said.

He said that Menard alternated between pointing his gun at his head and the ground but he never directly pointed the gun at police. At 8:50 p.m., Menard shot himself while in his truck. He was pronounced dead at The Westerly Hospital.

Desmond said Sunday that police are investigating Menard's death but so far have not come up with any reason for why he shot himself. He said Menard did not say anything to officers about why he wanted to commit suicide. Desmond said police will be talking to Menard's friends and relatives to reconstruct the hours before his death.

The standoff occurred near the La Quinta Inn & Suites at the corner of Route 2 and White Rock Road. The hotel did not allow anyone to enter or exit the property during the incident, and guests on the north side of the hotel, facing White Rock Road, were moved to south side.

Menard lived in a white two-story home next to railroad tracks and across from the former Whistle Stop cafe. He purchased the home in 2005.

Three of Menard's neighbors said Sunday afternoon that he liked to ride his bicycle and skateboard and recently bought a bright yellow Volkswagen Thing which was parked in his driveway this afternoon. They said except for a male friend that used to come by regularly, few other people came to the house.

"He was a really friendly guy but he seemed to keep to himself," said one of the neighbors, Jay Rondeau.

He said he saw Menard get into his car at 5 p.m. Saturday but nothing seemed unusual. He said he realized something was wrong when police went into Menard's home Saturday night.

The three men said they did not know Menard owned a gun. Desmond said police are investigating whether Menard owned a gun and had a permit for it.

j.wojtas@theday.com

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