Police: 1 dead, 2 wounded in I-95 shooting near Darien

Police said three people were found wounded Wednesday morning in Darien after a shooting on Interstate 95.

Police said three people were found wounded Wednesday morning in Darien after a shooting on Interstate 95.

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A portion of Interstate 95 was closed for hours Wednesday as state police investigated an overnight shooting that left one person dead and two injured.

I-95 southbound was closed around midday Wednesday between exits 18 in Westport and 16 in Norwalk, Connecticut State Police Trooper First Class Pedro A. Muñiz said. 

The police investigation stems from a shooting that occurred on the highway early Wednesday morning.

State police said Earl Gayle, 31, and Rashawn McCalla, 28, were wounded and transported to Stamford Hospital. Gayle, who was sitting in the front passenger seat at the time the shootings were reported, was pronounced dead at the hospital, according to state police. McCalla, who was sitting in the left rear passenger seat, was reported to be in stable condition following surgery, state police said.

The driver was identified by state police as Jovel McKenzie, 29. They reported McKenzie had sustained a superficial wound to the right shoulder, but declined medical attention.

State police said they recovered 10 shell casings south of the Exit 16 on-ramp and also seized what they described as "numerous items of evidentiary value," including the vehicle in which Gayle, McCalla and McKenzie were found. It was identified as a 2013 Infiniti G37 registered to New York.

Muñiz said Darien police contacted state police to report a vehicle containing three wounded people was found just off of Exit 10.

"Upon further investigation, it was found that the vehicle was traveling on I-95 southbound between Bridgeport and Darien when another vehicle came alongside and began to fire gunshots," Muñiz said.

Muniz said the shooting is believed to have been an "isolated incident" and there was no threat to the public.

Darien police said it first came to light when a sergeant noticed a vehicle slowly traveling southbound on Noroton Avenue near Maple Street around 3:40 a.m. The operator then drove toward the sergeant to report that multiple people in the vehicle had sustained gunshot wounds, according to Darien police.

The incident startled Darien residents who awoke to flashing emergency lights and police vehicles on Maple Street Wednesday morning.

Darien Flower Shop owner Paula Glenges, 65, had assumed the car blocking the road had broken down when she arrived to open her nearby store Wednesday morning. She said she hadn't heard any sirens from her home, which is above the flower shop.

Her parking lot is often “a dumping site” for cars that break down considering its close proximity to the highway, she said.

She suspected there was something more unusual than a broken down vehicle when she saw gloved officers inspecting the sedan. Officers did not alert her to the reason for the investigation and only asked for any potential camera footage, which she did not have.

“I’m so used to seeing cops because a car has flipped,” she said. “I’ve never heard of a shooting, to be honest, and I’ve been here 18 years.”

The Connecticut State Police Western District Major Crimes Unit has assumed the investigation, he said.

Ben Lambert can be reached at william.lambert@hearstmediact.com