GREENLAND, N.H. - The police chief of this small, close-knit town was killed and four other officers were shot Thursday night when a drug raid turned deadly, state and town officials said.
New Hampshire Attorney General Michael Delaney said the officers arrived at the home on Post Road in this town of 3,500 residents near Portsmouth to conduct a drug investigation at about 6 p.m., when the suspect opened fire from inside. The alleged gunman and a woman were barricaded in the home for hours after the shooting, Delaney said.
Killed in the shootings was Police Chief Michael Maloney, 48, who was one week from his retirement after 12 years on the force, said Town Administrator Karen Anderson.
“He had eight days left,’’ she said of the chief, who leaves two grown children and one grandchild.
Injured in the shootings were Detective Gregory Turner, 32, a six-year-veteran of the Dover police, who was treated and released from Portsmouth Regional Hospital for a gunshot wound to the shoulder; Officer Eric Kulberg, 31, a seven-year veteran of the University of New Hampshire police, treated and released for a single gunshot wound to the arm; Officer Scott Kukesh, 33, a 10-year veteran of the Newmarket police, who was in intensive care and was going into surgery with a gunshot wound to his chest; and Officer Jeremiah Murphy, 34, a seven-year veteran of the Rochester police, who was in intensive care after surgery.
Delaney said authorities were trying to negotiate with the suspect to surrender early Friday morning. Police evacuated residents within a half-mile of the house, and it appeared from live television coverage that the FBI was assisting local police and a SWAT team.
Delaney declined to provide additional information, other than to say that the four officers were being treated at a local hospital for gunshot wounds. He would not name the suspect and offered condolences to the family of Maloney.
“This is a tragic incident, and my thoughts and prayers are with the officers involved and their families,’’ New Hampshire’s governor, John Lynch, said in a statement. A hearse draped in an American flag was seen leaving Portsmouth Regional Hospital shortly after 10 p.m.
Lynch went to a command center in Concord to monitor the situation with other state emergency management officials, his office said.
The shooting began when police from several local and state departments responded to the area, and the first emergency call for an “officer-involved shooting’’ came in at about 6:30 p.m., according to local reports.
John Penacho, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, told reporters after Delaney’s briefing at Town Hall that Maloney took part in the raid.
“As far as I’m concerned, he ran an excellent police department,’’ Penacho said.
He said Maloney routinely went on patrols and took a hands-on approach to managing the department. “He was out there; he was very active,’’ Penacho said.
He said the town is reeling from the episode.
“We’re stunned - I mean, all of us,’’ he said. “It’s an unbelievable situation.’’
A neighbor who lived close to the scene and did not want his name published said police blanketed the area Thursday night as residents sought shelter indoors and lit their yards with outdoor spotlights.
When the first cruisers reached the scene Thursday evening, the man said he did not suspect anything unusual was happening.
“Actually, I looked out my window, I saw a couple of cruisers up on Post Road, and I thought someone was speeding and they pulled someone over,’’ he said when reached by phone.
He then received a call from his daughter who told him about the shooter. He said he called Greenland police, who confirmed they were handling the situation and told him to stay in his house.
“We never expected anything like this in Greenland,’’ he said of the town that was founded in 1721.
The squat, white house at 517 Post Road was apparently well known to police.
In 2010, officers went to the home to confiscate guns from Cullen Mutrie, 29, after he was arrested for domestic assault, according to the local website, Seacoastonline.com. The website cited police documents that said the officers believed Mutrie usually carried a gun and had more in his house and car. Police allegedly found liquid and powder steroids, the website said.
Three years earlier, Mutrie pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor assault charges after he was involved in a fight at the Portsmouth Gas Light Co., the website reported. Later, he reportedly withdrew his pleas, because he did not want a conviction to affect his chances of becoming a firefighter. In 2009, he pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of disorderly conduct, seacostonline.com reported.
Anderson, the town administrator, said Maloney was planning to travel for a month or so after retiring and that he had a job lined up outside law enforcement. She said the close-knit town has just 11 full-time employees, including seven officers.
She said the lone public school in town, the K-8 Greenland Central School, will be closed on Friday.
The shooting comes as the number of police officers killed across the country has spiked in recent years. There were 72 officers killed in 2011, a 25 percent increase from the previous year and a 75 percent increase from 2008, according to the FBI, the New York Times reported this week.