By GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN and BEA LEWIS, for THE LACONIA DAILY SUN
BELMONT — Police believe the man who allegedly shot a 33-year-old Massachusetts woman in the head on Tuesday afternoon on Arlene Drive may still be in the area. State and local police continued to search for suspect Jason Cuocolo, 42, of Belmont, and spent much of the day on Thursday scouring the woods and other possible hiding spots in an area off Route 3 near the Laconia border.
As a State Police helicopter circled overhead, several three-man teams of troopers plus a K-9 traipsed the forested terrain surrounding the Vacation Escape Motel, formerly known as The Great Escape, at 34 Daniel Webster Highway.
Using the parking lots at Ready Equipment rental the site of the since razed Jade Island restaurant as a staging area, police also searched
wooded areas between several residential neighborhoods and used the dog to comb the Town Line Cottages, which remains closed and sports a for sale sign. Teams searched sections of Needle Eye Road, and behind Pirates Cove miniature golf. They also spent time on Tracy Way off Parade Road.
Vacation Escape Motel manager Nancy Brown told police Cuocolo asked her for a room Tuesday night, according to The Concord Monitor.
Lt. Scott Gilbert of the State Police Major Crimes Unit said Thursday that Cuocolo appears to have ditched the car he allegedly stole at gunpoint from someone else at the Belmont home in Meredith but there haven’t been any other vehicles reported stolen from the area.
“If he was going to leave the area, he would have likely used the vehicle he stole,” Gilbert said.
He said Cuocolo does not have a car registered in his name.
Belmont and State Police responded Tuesday afternoon at 1 p.m. to a report of a woman who had been shot in the head at 24 Arlene Drive. On Wednesday, police surrounded Vacation Escape after getting information that Cuocolo may be staying there. One unidentified man who had outstanding warrants for an unrelated crime was taken away by police in handcuffs due to the search.
Gilbert said Thursday that police have learned the victim and Cuocolo knew each other, likely from an association they had in Massachusetts. He said Cuocolo had been living in New Hampshire and she lived in Massachusetts.
“No doubt they were at least acquaintances over the past several months,” he said.
Gilbert said the victim, who has not been identified, remains in critical but stable condition at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon. He said she has been able to communicate with police and is expected to survive her injuries.
A search of Laconia Family Court records found that Coucolo has no history of domestic violence.
Police ask that anyone with information call them, and note that the public should consider Cuocolo armed and dangerous.
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