Concord Monitor (New Hampshire)
BYLINE: SHIRA SCHOENBERG, Monitor staff
The young man whose alleged threats caused a modified lockdown in Kearsarge schools Monday broke into the Springfield police station, stole a shotgun and fired four shots before being taken into custody, the police said.
The 19-year-old was found walking on a street in Springfield on Monday evening, and he is being held in a secure facility at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, where a psychiatrist has deemed him suicidal, Springfield Police Chief Timothy Julian said. Julian expects that criminal charges will be forthcoming.
"The reason he stated (for the burglary and shooting) was because he wanted to die and he was going to shoot him-self," Julian said. "Then he decided he'd rather point the gun at a police officer and have the police officer shoot him."
The Monitor is not identifying the young man, because he has not yet been charged with a crime. The police have not released his name. Meanwhile, Kearsarge schools resumed normal schedules yesterday with the news that the man had been located. On Monday, all outdoor and after-school activities were canceled in each of the region's schools.
The incident started when the man, a former senior at Kearsarge Regional High School who left school earlier this year, told friends over the internet Sunday evening that he planned to commit suicide. According to Kearsarge Regional School District Superintendent Thomas Brennan, he also told one friend "not to go to school" Monday.
On Sunday night, the Springfield police got a call about a suicidal person and started looking for that person, Julian said. Then, about 11 p.m., Julian returned to the police station and discovered that it had been broken into. A burglar had damaged the entrance door, broken into the evidence room, stolen a shotgun, and shot a hole through the wall of the police department, hitting a wall and window. The police did not originally connect the two incidents.
While he was trying to check on the suicidal person, Julian said he heard a gunshot from the tree line of a recrea-tional field near the police department. He called for help from police departments in New London and Sunapee, as well as the State Police. Julian and Sergeant Michael Beaulieu started checking the area when they heard a second shot. Julian called in a State
Police helicopter and the Western New Hampshire Special Operations Unit."We searched the area, checked and checked," Julian said. "When daylight came up, we called the search because he was nowhere in the area. We couldn't find him."
About 11 a.m. Monday, Beaulieu found the missing shotgun in the woods. About 5 p.m., the police found the man walking along Route 114 in Springfield. The 19-year-old had lived in several places but was currently living with a per-son whose home is on Route 114. Julian said he was compliant, and taken into custody without trouble. "He didn't have a firearm. He was just walk-ing down the road," Julian said. "He hadn't eaten in two days. He was still in the same state of mind, but he was tired."
The police brought him to Dartmouth-Hitchcock, where he was evaluated and found to be suicidal. When Julian spoke to the man, he confessed to the burglary and to firing the shots, Julian said. The man has one prior conviction as an adult for criminal mischief, Julian said.
Julian anticipates that charges of burglary, causing public alarm, and reckless conduct will be forthcoming. The causing public alarm charge will apply to both his conduct with the firearm and to the incident that led to the schools' modified lockdown, although both the police and the superintendent said there was never a direct threat communicated to the school.
Several friends said Monday that the man had serious emotional problems. Yesterday, his close friend John Dukette, whom the Monitor contacted through the social networking site MySpace, said he hopes the man can "just get his head straightened back up, and let him back in school."
Dukette said the man faced difficult times but was just about to start a new job. He wrote in a message to the Moni-tor that the man was "probably the nicest person you could meet, He'd do anything for his friends and he treated them like family."
With potential danger to the schools averted, Brennan said yesterday that he was proud of the district's staff and their cooperation with the local police. Brennan said the district has worked on its emergency management plan for years. "We identified a couple of areas, like communication, that we need to tighten up, but overall I'm very confident that our plan that we had in place worked effectively for us," Brennan said.
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