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Man who shot himself said to have 'a temper'

Updated 12:46 am, Monday, February 25, 2013
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Staff reports

FAIRFIELD -- Douglas Garni was a complicated man -- someone described by at least one neighbor as having a temper, but who was also a licensed emergency medical technician, regularly seen walking his dogs around the white, picket-fenced Fairfield condo complex where he lived.

Garni, 40, died late Saturday night from a self-inflicted gunshot wound after a 3 1/2-hour standoff with heavily armed police at Colonial Gardens Condominiums. He had barricaded himself in a unit of the Sunnyridge Avenue condo complex about 7:30 p.m. Saturday after police said he threatened his girlfriend, prompting her to take refuge at a nearby condo and call police.

The woman told officials that Garni had several firearms registered in his name that he kept in their condo.

On Sunday afternoon, neighbors said Garni had lived in the complex for at least a decade and had recently been president of the condo association.

"We all knew he had a temper," said one neighbor, who declined to give her name. "But we never thought he'd go this far."

Fairfield Police Sgt. Suzanne Lussier said there were at least two guns found at the condo -- a handgun and a long, "assault-style" gun. Both were registered to Garni.

Garni also had two dogs, and police said at least one is being cared for by a family friend.

Prior to his current girlfriend, Garni had been married, according to legal documents. In July 2007, he and his ex-wife were charged with disorderly conduct. A brief check of state court records didn't show any convictions from the arrest.

Lussier said Garni and his current girlfriend had no prior history of domestic violence.

Another neighbor, Patricia Ford, said she didn't know Garni but he seemed like "a really nice man who was seen faithfully walking his dog and speaking to residents on a regular basis."

Garnia was also a licensed EMT, according to the state of Connecticut's licensing website. His license was issued in 2009 and was active at the time of his death.

On Saturday, officers arriving at the scene set up a perimeter around the condo where Garni had barricaded himself, and evacuated residents from several nearby units as a safety precaution.

Fairfield and Bridgeport police dispatched their Emergency Services Units to the scene, and police negotiators from Fairfield and Norwalk also were sent to try to contact Garni. About 11 p.m., a single gunshot was heard from a wooded area just north of Garni's condo, police said, and Emergency Services Unit officers quickly found his body there.

To those living in the complex, the tragedy punctured what is typically a nice, quiet place to live. Ford and her daughter, Page, have lived at Colonial Gardens for about a year.

"It's usually very quiet and cozy," Page Ford said.

Her mother agreed.

Patricia Ford was sick and in bed at the time of the standoff. Right before the problems started, she said, she was lying in bed and thinking how secure she felt in the community.

Shortly after that, the police arrived. Ford and her daughter both said they heard what they believe was the gunshot that killed Garni.

"We used to think we lived in such safe town," Patricia Ford said.

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