05/08/2007

Former N.Y. police officer dead after standoff in Florida

BY JOSEPH MALLIA
Newsday

NASSAU COUNTY, N.Y. — A retired Nassau County police officer killed himself this morning after breaking into his ex-girlfriend's Orange County, Fla., home and threatening her, Florida authorities said.

Deputies sent in a surveillance robot to confirm that Michael Zuzio, 56, was dead, officials said.

"Unfortunately, when we called him just before 8 o'clock, he said he was not coming out and was going to kill himself," Orange County Sheriff's Cpl. Susan Soto told the Orlando Sentinel. "Shortly afterward, we heard a shot."

Zuzio retired about 20 years ago from the Nassau police after 17 years on the job, said Orange County Cpl. Susan Soto. She declined to say how the Florida police learned of Zuzio's law enforcement background, or to provide further details on the case.

Lt. Kevin Smith, a Nassau police spokesman, said the department had a former highway patrol officer by that name who retired in 1987 and who was the same age as the man who died in Florida. But there was no official confirmation yet, Smith said.

Zuzio's ex-girlfriend managed to call 911 and set off a silent alarm at about 4:45 a.m. Monday to let sheriff's deputies know that her ex-boyfriend was pointing a gun at her chest, police said.

Florida police said Zuzio let his ex-girlfriend go, unharmed, about 20 minutes after the 911 call, then barricaded himself in the house in the Westmoor subdivision in western Orange County as SWAT team members surrounded the house.

Bender, 48, had left to be with friends and family. Deputies remained on scene today, gathering forensic evidence. They would not say what type of gun Zuzio had or where they had found his body.

Copyright 2007 Newsday Inc.

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