GREENLAND, N.H. (AP) – Sorrow and fear weighed heavily on residents of a small New Hampshire town where a police chief just days from retirement was killed and four officers from other departments were injured after a man opened fire on them during a drug bust.
The suspect remained holed up in a house with a woman early Friday, police said, and the town was virtually locked down. Streets were closed and officers stood at roadblocks, first in pouring rain, then enveloped in heavy fog.
The shooting Thursday evening devastated Greenland, a town of 3,500 near the seacoast that had just seven police officers including Chief Michael Maloney, 48, who was due to retire in less than two weeks.
“In those final days, he sacrificed his life in public service as a law enforcement officer in New Hampshire,” Attorney General Michael Delaney said early Friday.
Maloney had 26 years of experience in law enforcement, the last 12 as chief of the Greenland department. Two officers were shot in the chest and were in intensive care early Friday. Two others were treated and released. The four injured officers were from area departments and were working as part of a drug task force.
Lee Miller, who lives next door to where the shootings took place, said she heard at least six shots. Fearing for her 12-year-old grandson who was visiting her, she said she went to the window and saw someone on the ground. Moments later, police knocked on her door, telling them to run outside and take cover behind a police cruiser.
Police later escorted Miller and her grandson to a nearby school.
Jacqueline DeFreze, who lives a half-mile down the road, said she was crushed by reports that the chief had been shot. She’d planned to attend a surprise party for his retirement.
“I’m a wreck. He was just the greatest guy,” said DeFreze, a fourth-grade teacher in nearby Rye. “He’s kind-hearted, always visible in the community.”
State police and officers from many departments responded after the initial call around 6 p.m. Attorney General Michael Delaney said he couldn’t provide much other information about the shooting.
“We do have an active armed standoff at a home and we’re simply not going to provide any information right now that may jeopardize that situation,” he said. “We are working with federal state and local law enforcement to try to obtain a peaceful resolution.”
Gov. John Lynch was at Portsmouth Regional Hospital, where the officers were taken. He asked residents to pray for the injured officers and Maloney’s family.
“My thoughts and prayers and those of my wife, Susan, are with the family of Chief Michael Maloney. Chief Maloney’s unwavering courage and commitment to protecting others serves as an example to us all,” he said.
The tree-lined street, closed off by police, features single-family homes and duplexes. The shootings took place at 517 Post Road, a 2-bedroom, 1½ -story structure that’s listed as owned by the Beverly Mutrie Revocable Trust, according to tax assessor records.
The Portsmouth Herald reported in February 2011 that Cullen Mutrie, 29, was a resident of the home on 517 Post Road and had been arrested and charged with possession of anabolic steroids.
The newspaper reported that the steroids were found in the home when officers went to confiscate guns after Mutrie was arrested on domestic assault charges. According to a police affidavit, the steroids were found in Mutrie’s living room on July 24, 2010, but were not verified by the state crime lab until Jan. 18.
Miller told The Associated Press that she had complained to police repeatedly about suspected drug activity at the house and had been told it was under investigation.
She said late-night fights at the house were so frequent that she moved her bed around so that it was no longer near a window facing the driveway.
John Penacho, chairman of the town’s Board of Selectman, said Maloney was married with children.
“It’s a blow to all of us. You’re stunned. It’s New Hampshire, it’s a small town,” he said. “We’re stunned. I mean all of us. It’s an unbelievable situation.”
Asked what the town will do to help residents cope with the tragedy, Penacho said “We’ll do whatever we need to do.”
The other officers shot were: Detective Gregory Turner, 32, a six-year veteran of the Dover police department, who was treated for a gunshot wound to the shoulder and released; Detective Eric Kulberg, 31, a seven-year veteran of the University of New Hampshire police department, who was treated for a gunshot wound to the arm and released; Detective Scott Kukesh, 33, a 10-year veteran of the Newmarket police department, who was in intensive care awaiting surgery for a gunshot wound to the chest; and Detective Jeremiah Murphy, 34, a seven-year veteran of the Rochester police department, who was in intensive care after surgery for a gunshot wound to the chest.