Man dies after being shot by police in Salem - WNEM TV 5

Man dies after being shot by police in Salem

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A man who was acting irrationally and shot by state police after a house fire in Salem late Tuesday afternoon has died, according to hospital officials.

CSP said the Salem Fire Department was called to the area of 28 Witter Rd. at about 6:30 p.m. and when they arrived, they said a three-car detached garage was in flames, and a separate fire was rapidly growing from inside the log cabin-style home.

Officials said the driveway to the home had been blocked by several vehicles and a farm tractor, which kept firefighters from getting the flames under control.

Fire officials also said evidence was discovered to suggest the fire may have been intentionally set, and as a result the Connecticut State Police Fire and Explosion Investigation Unit was requested to the scene.

During the incident, firefighters said a man who was later identified as 59-year-old Robert Bergeson was spotted yelling and reportedly waiving a gun in a wooded area behind the home.

"The emergency personnel were working their best to get the fire down they noticed that [him] that was quite a surprise and quite fearful for several of them," said Salem First Selectman Kevin Lyden.

They told Connecticut State Police troopers that were at the scene, and when they tried to approach Bergeson, they said he was acting irrationally and began to charge at them waiving reportedly a gun in a threatening manner.

"Upon confronting the individual, he acted more irrationally and confronted the troopers, which resulted in one trooper discharging his service weapon and striking the male subject," Connecticut State Police Capt. Thomas Garbedian.

Police said they repeatedly asked Bergeson to drop the weapon, but he did not.

Bergeson was given first aid and was brought to Backus Hospital. Bergeson was later brought to Rhode Island Hospital in Providence, where he was pronounced dead.

An autopsy is being performed on Bergeson by the State Medical Examiner's Office, where positive identification will be made and released by police.

"We have the Central District Major Crimes investigating the shooting scene," Garbedian said. "We have Eastern District Major Crime Fire and Explosive Unit working with the Salem fire marshal to investigate the cause of the fire."

The officer responsible for the shooting was not identified and has been transferred to desk duty until the investigation is completed.

Building was condemned and secured by town employees on Wednesday. Town records show the property is jointly owned by Robert and Gale Bergeson. But state records show the Bergesons divorced in May.

Retired from the pharmaceutical industry, Robert Bergeson was charged last year with assaulting his wife in their home. He was found guilty and served some time this month in jail.

"He dropped his motorcycle a couple of months ago," said  neighbor Anthony Greco. "He asked us to help him pick up, not out of the ordinary, he seemed frustrated."

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