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N.H. couple recount gunfire, their home in flames

Police were on scene at Mill Pond Road in Brentwood, N.H., on the day Officer Steve Arkell  was shot and killed before a house explosion and fire.

Mark Lorenz for the Boston Globe

Police were on scene at Mill Pond Road in Brentwood, N.H., on the day officer Steve Arkell was shot and killed before a house explosion and fire.

Jim and Sue Maguire would occasionally hear yelling coming from their neighbor’s home in Brentwood, N.H., but the fights were always one-sided.

Michael P. Nolan and his father, Walter, quarreled again on Monday afternoon, but this dispute took a deadly turn. Officer Steve Arkell was fatally shot as soon as he entered their duplex to respond to a report of a domestic dispute, police said. The home was later destroyed in an explosive fire.

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“Our whole community is really thankful for [Arkell], what he did for us in going in there and trying to defuse that situation,” Jim Maguire said Thursday in a telephone interview. “Who knows what would have happened?”

Authorities allege that 47-year-old Michael Nolan ambushed Arkell, 48, inside the duplex, which the Nolans shared with the Maguires. Nolan’s body was found in the rubble of his garage after the fire and explosion. Investigators said they have not determined his cause of death. Walter T. Nolan survived.

Sue Maguire, 62, saw the ordeal unfold from a porch across the street, where she was visiting with a female friend in the community for residents 55 and older, her husband said.

She and her friend called 911 after they heard Nolan start yelling at his 86-year-old father in an obscenity-laced rant, Jim Maguire said. Walter Nolan answered the door and Arkell went in, he said.

“As soon as he went in the door, she heard shots ring out — three to five shots ring out there,” Maguire said.

After they heard gunfire, the women went inside, where they watched what was happening from a window, Maguire said.

That’s when the 70-year-old Maguire, who was shopping at Market Basket, said he got a call from his wife.

“She called me when she saw the second officer go in,” Maguire said. “She thought the first cop got shot because she never saw him get out.”

Gunshots rang out a second time when Fremont police Officer Derek Franek entered the duplex. Maguire said he could hear gunfire over the phone.

“She said, ‘The gunfire is starting again,’” Maguire said. Franek managed to escape.

A raging fire later started in the duplex, punctuated by an explosion. The inferno destroyed both the Nolan and Maguire homes.

Maguire said he never predicted the violent attack at the Nolan home and did not know anyone there had a firearm.

He said he had heard Michael Nolan yell at his father in the past, but Walter never yelled back.

The younger Nolan was a recluse who lived on the second floor of the duplex and emerged from his house in the mornings for a quick drive, Maguire said.

“He would only go away for 10 or 15 minutes and never come out the rest of the day,” Maguire said. “He wasn’t all there, obviously, from what went down. He needed help, and he didn’t get it.”

Maguire said authorities have not let them back onto the property yet, but they have visited the neighborhood. They are staying with his brother-in-law in another New Hampshire town and do not know if they can salvage any possessions, he said.

“We finally got back in there yesterday, and everybody started coming out of their houses to greet us and hug us,” Maguire said. “It’s nice. It helps.”

A fund was also set up to help the Maguires on the website YouCaring.com. More than $2,600 had been collected by Thursday afternoon.

Maguire said one of Michael Nolan’s sisters called him.

“She was crying on the phone and sorrowful for what happened to us, knowing that we were unintended victims of what occurred,” he said. “I, in turn, reached out to her and said it’s an just an awful episode that happened. We are truly sorry for the loss of her brother and glad that her father was all right.”

Maguire, a retired General Electric employee, and his wife, a retired hairdresser, moved to Brentwood a little more than three years ago, he said. Both their cats and Nolan’s dog died in the incident, Maguire said.

The wake for Arkell is scheduled for 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday at Exeter High School, the school system said. Arkell helped out with the girls’ lacrosse team at the school. A memorial service is set for 10 a.m. Wednesday at the high school’s William Ball Stadium.

Laura Crimaldi can be reached at laura.crimaldi@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @lauracrimaldi.
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