LACONIA — Robert Shawn Audette, 26, wanted by Lacona Police on charges of criminal threatening following the siege of an apartment house at 20 Jewett Street on Wednesday, has spent the last seven years in and out of the New Hampshire State Prison after being convicted on two counts of arson in Hillsborough Superior Court North in 2008.
Police allege that Audette pointed a firearm at another man while they and others were in an apartment at 20 Jewett Street on Tuesday. The incident prompted police to cordon off the neighborhood, evacuate nearby homes and surround the building then spend much of the afternoon urging the suspect to surrender. Ultimately, a heavily armed team of the Belknap County Special Operations Group entered the building amid a cloud of tear gas only to find no one inside. But, police searching the apartment found a shotgun and several rounds of ammunition. Police believe Audette fled before reached the scene.
In 2008, Audette, then 19 and living in Hooksett, began serving two one-to-three year sentences in prison to run concurrently for setting fire to vacant buildings, while a sentence for criminal mischief was suspended.. In October 2010, he was among the first inmates paroled under a new law prescribing that prisoners be paroled nine months before their sentences expired. The Associated Press reported that his father was glad he was coming home, but believed criminals should serve their full sentences. After repeatedly violating parole and returning to prison, Audette finally completed serving his sentence while on parole in May, 2015.
While released on parole Audette was arrested a number of times in Manchester, Hooksett, Goffstown and Concord on a variety of misdemeanor charges, including criminal mischief, criminal threatening, assault, possession of drugs, resisting arrest, disobeying an officer and conduct after an accident in Manchester, Hooksett, Goffstown. In March, 2015 Audette, who gave his address as Orchard Street, Manchester, was arrested in Concord for criminal liability for the conduct of another and making a false report to law enforcement following incidents in the city the previous July.
Kristen Paul, who rents the apartment at 20 Jewett Street where the incident occurred and the shotgun was found, told WMUR-TV that she was away from her home when the alleged incident took place Speaking on camera, she said that Audette was "my friend's friend" who had moved from Belmont and was staying at her apartment for a few days before moving into a new home. She described him as "a nice guy".
Captain Bill Clary of the Laconia Police said yesterday that officers have spoken with Audette's wife about his possible whereabouts without success. He said that the woman who came out of the building at 20 Jewett Street shortly before the team from the special operations group went in, was a visitor, not a tenant, and that she told police that she had slept through the incident without hearing the repeated calls over a bullhorn atop a Bearcat armored vehicle parked near the front door to leave the building.
Police caution the public not to approach Audette and ask anyone with information that could lead to Audette's whereabouts to call 911 or the Laconia Police Department at 524-5252.
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