February 23, 2018

Car crashes into Middlesex Hospital, driver lights himself on fire

Middlesex Hospital lifted its ban on visitors Friday but its Emergency Department remained closed after a Middletown resident crashed his vehicle into the emergency room entrance before exiting the car and lighting himself on fire Thursday morning, authorities said.

Officials said there were no other injuries and that they believe the incident was isolated.

The man, who WFSB reported is named Steven Ellam, was transported by LifeStar helicopter to Bridgeport Hospital, which has the state's only burn center. Officials said he has been known to police for several years. Police say they found gas cans in his car at the scene.

Ellam had not yet been charged with a crime as of 4 p.m. Thursday. The Middletown Press has previously reported on several of Ellam's prior arrests.

The Hartford Courant on Friday reported Ellam recorded the incident on Facebook Live, ranting about President Donald Trump and one percenters and shouting, "Death to the world order," before setting himself on fire.

Authorities on Thursday evacuated a cluster of homes around the suspect's residence on Milardo Lane, and Middletown also increased police presence at schools and other facilities, though Mayor Dan Drew said there was no reason to believe any other locations were in danger.

"We do not know what this individual's motives are and we will not speculate as to his motives," Drew said Thursday.

Municipal, state and federal bomb squads checked the hospital and the suspect's residence, Police Chief William McKenna said. Police are working with the FBI.

"This will be a crime scene for quite some time, the exact time frame I don't know," McKenna said.

Middlesex evacuated its emergency department, which is closed until further notice, according to Vice President of Operations David Giuffrida. The hospital has canceled non-emergent surgeries and outpatient radiology tests that were scheduled for Friday.

Though no other injuries have been reported, anyone concerned about a loved one in the hospital can call (860) 358-6000 for information.

"As always again, our first priority is to our patients, and everybody is safe and being attended to," Giuffrida said.

Hartford HealthCare said Hartford Hospital and MidState Medical Center, both campuses of The Hospital of Central Connecticut, are accepting diverted patients.

"The Hartford HealthCare Emergency Operations Center is monitoring the situation and as a precaution is increasing security at its emergency departments and other locations," the health system said in a statement Thursday afternoon.

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