CONCORD, N.H. — Hundreds gathered early Monday evening for a candlelight vigil to honor the life and service of Bradley Haas, 63, a security officer who was fatally shot Friday in the line of duty.
Mourners held tea lights in cupcake wrappers as they assembled at a soccer field less than half a mile from New Hampshire Hospital, where Haas had been stationed when a man with a pistol opened fire Friday afternoon in the lobby before being quickly subdued by a nearby trooper.
Governor Chris Sununu said Haas saved lives that day and died upholding the commitment to public service that typified his career, which entailed three decades with the Franklin Police Department, including as the city’s police chief.
“If that level of sacrifice and service isn’t the definition of heroism, I don’t know what is,” Sununu said.
Haas was working as an unarmed security officer for the New Hampshire Department of Safety when he was shot, and news of the violence at the state-run psychiatric facility brought swarms of law enforcement personnel, first responders, and news media to the 120-acre campus where thousands of state employees work for a variety of agencies — so the tragic event left many government employees feeling a sense of grief, sorrow, and pain on a personal level.
As the vigil was held amid near-freezing temperatures, organizers provided a warming tent with hot beverages for those who might need a break from the cold, and workers from the National Alliance on Mental Illness New Hampshire offered emotional support for those who might seek it.
Madhumita Chatterjee, who works for the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, was among the many state employees at the vigil. Wrapped in a fleece blanket to shield herself from the cold, she reflected on the shared sense of shattered security.
“We always keep thinking New Hampshire, especially Concord, to be an extremely safe space, and for it to hit even our corner does give us that feeling of fear, feeling of uncertainty,” Chatterjee said.
Sununu praised state employees for jumping into action on Friday and coming right back to work the next day, supporting each other and their community to soldier on.
“That’s what Granite Staters are,” he said. “It’s leaning on each other, not just leaning on a system, but leaning on each other in our most troubled times. ... Our bond with our neighbors holds strong, especially in times as trying as these.”
Health and Human Services Commissioner Lori Weaver said the outpouring of support the state has seen in the past few days is a testament to the state’s resilience.
“Though we gather in grief and sorrow today, we also gather in unity and solidarity,” Weaver said. “We’ve all been impacted by this tragic event in some way; however, this organization and this campus have been a place of care for generations. May they also be a placing of healing.”
Safety Commissioner Robert Quinn recounted Haas’s career, noting that he had served as a military police officer in the US Army from 1978 to 1981. He also praised the state police trooper who subdued the shooter, the dispatcher, and others who responded quickly to prevent the violence from spreading. Police said John Madore, who had been held at the hospital in 2016, shot Haas before being fatally shot by a New Hampshire State Police trooper.
“It’s incredibly important that we remain united as a community and work together through this tragedy,” Quinn said.