Update, 6:20 p.m., Jan. 20:
Maryland State Police have identified the driver of the Ford Focus who police said fatally shot himself during a traffic stop on Interstate 270 on Friday afternoon as a 27-year-old Gaithersburg man. The man's body was taken to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Baltimore for an autopsy, police said in a news release Sunday.
Update, 9:45 p.m., Jan. 18:
A man fatally shot himself after being stopped by a state trooper near the Montrose Road exit of Interstate 270 on Friday afternoon, Maryland State Police said.
Police are working to identify the man, state police said in a news release Friday evening.
Multiple lanes of I-270 northbound were closed for several hours due to the police investigation, leading to significant traffic delays during the evening rush at the start of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend.
According to police, a state trooper from the Rockville barrack was patrolling northbound on I-270 before Montrose Road (Exit 4) shortly after 4 p.m. when he saw the driver of a 1997 Ford Focus driving without a seatbelt.
The trooper initiated a traffic stop and the driver pulled the car over on the right shoulder without incident, police said. As the trooper exited his vehicle he heard a gun shot and immediately returned to his vehicle to request backup, the release said.
“The trooper gave verbal commands to the driver but he did not respond,” the release said.
When backup arrived, the troopers again tried to communicate, telling the driver to exit the vehicle, police said. When the driver did not respond, the troopers approached the car and found the driver unresponsive with “what appeared to be a gunshot wound to his upper torso,” the release said. They also saw a handgun near the car’s center console, the release said.
The Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service was called. Responders performed emergency procedures before pronouncing the man dead at the scene, the release said. His body will be taken to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Baltimore for an autopsy, police said.
The investigation is ongoing. Investigators from the Rockville barrack and state police crime scene technicians were still processing the scene at 9 p.m. Friday.
The state police Homicide Unit will be conducting the investigation, police said.
Original post, 6:13 p.m., Jan. 18:
A police investigation of a possible suicide closed three northbound lanes of Interstate 270 just before the Montrose Road exit in Rockville during the height of Friday afternoon’s rush hour.
HOV restrictions had been lifted for I-270 and at least one lane had reopened by 5:30 p.m., Maryland State Police said. Significant delays remained.
Officer Britta Thomas, a Montgomery County police spokeswoman, said county police responded shortly after 4 p.m. and that the investigation involved “a possible suicide.” She referred further questions to Maryland State Police, who are now handling the investigation.
A person reached in the MSP’s Rockville barrack said police are not commenting on the investigation at this time.