At Starbucks on Litchfield Turnpike in Woodbridge, residents of towns across the greater New Haven area react with shock and sadness as the topic turns to an alleged murder-suicide that hit close to home Monday.
Some hadn't heard about it at all. Some had only heard it mentioned in passing.
One such person was Kate Marlow, a criminal justice major at the University of New Haven who recently moved from Darien to an apartment complex down the street. She says she's heard gunshots outside her window before.
"Sometimes [it bothers me] if I can relate to them in any way—which has happened sometimes—but not the specific case anymore," she says.
But Marlow and her friends at Starbucks were still disturbed to learn about the reports that came from New Haven and Westport yesterday morning.
Police say a Woodbridge man, Daniel Swisha, shot his brother Gordon in the parking lot of Electrix, the New Haven-based company Gordon owned and where Daniel had worked.
Daniel, 47, then reportedly drove to his parents' home on Rustic Lane in Westport, where police say he took his own life.
According to police, Daniel's parents discovered his body around 8:30 a.m., and he was pronounced dead, from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, at Norwalk Hospital at 9:13 a.m.
New Haven police, who investigated the alleged murder at Electrix, have not outlined a motive. Electrix employees told the New Haven Register that Gordon, 45, a Fairfield resident, had "fired his brother a couple of months ago" and that Daniel could have been taking revenge.
According to a corporate data site, Electrix has more than 30 employees and a gross revenue of about $6 million, with a roster of clients that includes The New York Times. Numerous media outlets are reporting Electrix is a Swisha family business.
The company, which was closed following Monday's incident, has not released a statement and no representatives were available for comment.
News of the fratricide-suicide traveled fast. It was the topic of conversation inside Westport Pizzeria just a few hours after police released a statement announcing the alleged fratricide. A man brought it up to a woman who was sitting at the counter around 3 p.m., summarizing a report he had just read online, calling it a "tragedy."
Back at Starbucks in Woodbridge, Marlow and another patron, Heidi Louiseau of West Haven, try to imagine what could have brought about the tragedy.
Louiseau, an EMT in Stratford, says the incident reminds her of painful moments from her past — she once dated the brother of a murder-suicide suspect, she says. And she sees cases every day that could end nearly as traumatically.
"I see suicide survivors on the ambulance," she says. "It always makes me feel terrible. There's no worse feeling than when you're taking a young person out of a home — his parents watching the child they loved on the stretcher heading toward the ambulance. I feel like crying, but you know, you can't … What a shame for the parents, for the families."