LATHAM, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Sources confirm police are investigating a possible murder suicide at a Colonie police officer’s home.
“It was really involved, and they had to back off it,” Elliot Schwebel, of Colonie, said. “Sounded like something was popping, like ammunition, so all the firemen backed away from the building for a while, and the police were stopping people from walking up the street or down the street.”
Police confirmed the house was owned by Israel Roman, a Colonie patrol officer. Sources close to the investigation said the bodies belonged to Roman, his wife, and their 10-year-old son. Sources also confirmed investigators are looking into the fire as a possible murder suicide.
Tuesday was Officer Roman’s scheduled day off from work. It is unknown if his wife ever made it to her teaching job in the Mohonasen Central School District.
The Romans’ youngest son did attend school Tuesday, and by all accounts, he returned home safely. Hours later, though, calls about a fire at the Romans’ home were placed to 911.
Responding officers said they heard loud pops from ammunition going off for about five minutes. After the fire was knocked down, investigators made entry.
Law enforcement said the three bodies were found lying on a bed together. A source with direct knowledge to the investigation said all three were shot in the head and were wrapped in blankets.
Harvey Friedman has lived in the neighborhood since 1968. He said the Roman family had moved in a few years ago.
Friedman said the couple’s two sons always played sports outside, and he said they were very polite in his encounters with them.
“Everyone’s in shock. I haven’t spoken to anyone who wasn’t affected by it,” he said. “They seemed to be a nice, cohesive young family, and truly it was a pleasure knowing them. And the boys were so well behaved. When someone hit one over the fence, they’d always knock on my door to request permission.”
Neighbors said the officer had a very routine schedule. Friedman said the last time he spoke to Roman was on Friday and everything seemed fine. He said he gave Roman mail that was put in his mailbox by mistake.
“He said, ‘I’ve been looking for that,’” Friedman recalled. “It was from a religious organization, and I said something like, ‘George Carlin would have said how come God always wants money?’ He laughed, and that was the end of that exchange.”
Schwebel said he was a firefighter for 20 years.
“I just never understand how people have to do these kind of things,” he said. “It’s something that unfortunately you see happen so often that it still amazes me. As I said, I was involved in the fire department and the local ambulance squad, and you come across these type of things happening, and you just never understand why.”
The Roman’s 10-year-old was an elementary school student in the North Colonie School District. An older, surviving son is a student at Shaker High School.
The North Colonie School District released the following statement:“Late Tuesday evening, we learned of a terrible tragedy involving a family living in the North Colonie Central School District, whose home was involved in a devastating fire. We will continue to be in constant contact with the Colonie Police Department and will follow their lead for any and all release of information, including the names of the victims. In this extremely difficult time, our focus will be providing the necessary supports to our students and staff. Since Tuesday evening, the district has been arranging grief counselors to staff various school buildings, and will continue to offer that support as long as it is needed. As we always do in a tragedy, we will come together as a district and get through this terrible time. As more updates become available to us, we will make them available to our community.”
The why behind the tragedy is still a mystery. Roman is said to have been an officer who kept a low profile and never faced any disciplinary action.
The couple’s older was attending a Shaker High basketball game at the time of the fire. He is the only surviving member of his family.
The New York State Police took over the case. They are not publicly commenting and neither is the Colonie Police Department.
Autopsies on the three bodies are scheduled for Wednesday afternoon at Albany Medical Center.