BY BEA LEWIS, for THE LACONIA DAILY SUN
MEREDITH — State and area police surrounded a local cabin colony and shut down a nearby section of Route 3 on Wednesday after they received a tip that a man wanted for questioning in connection with the Tuesday afternoon shooting of a Belmont woman was staying there.
New Hampshire State Police Lt. Scott Gilbert said his agency was in the process of obtaining warrants for the arrest of Jason Cuocolo, 42, of Belmont, on felony charges of first-degree assault, armed robbery and criminal threatening with a gun, but that the suspect remains at large.
Jason M. Cuocolo
Belmont Police Chief Mark Lewandoski said Wednesday that Cuocolo allegedly threatened people at a home at 24 Arlene Drive in Belmont with a gun and stole their car, which was discovered abandoned in the vicinity of the Great Escape at 34 Daniel Webster Highway.
On Tuesday, about 1 p.m., police were called to 24 Arlene Drive for a woman suffering from a gunshot wound to the head. The victim was rushed to Lakes Region General Hospital and then airlifted to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. Lewandoski said she remains in critical but stable condition.
Lewandoski said Cuocolo has ties to Meredith, Rockland, Massachusetts, and Belmont, and New Hampshire State Police are working with state and local police in Massachusetts to try and find him.
State Police joined their counterparts from neighboring Laconia and Center Harbor Wednesday, along with members of the Belknap County Sheriff’s Department in patrolling the area on the lookout for the suspect.
Armed with military-style rifles and wearing bulletproof vests police searched each of the cabins at the resort and arrested one man who was led away in handcuffs after discovering he was wanted on a warrant unrelated to the Belmont incident.
A German shepherd K-9 was also deployed in the adjacent woods to search for the suspect.
Gilbert said the abandoned car was found about 3 p.m. on Tuesday, but that his agency didn’t learn of it until some five hours later.
On Wednesday, while the search continued, Meredith police spoke with the engineer of the Hobo Railroad who had just returned from a trip back from The Weirs to see if he had spotted anyone on the tracks. Officers also canvassed residential neighborhoods in the vicinity of where the car was abandoned, including Needle Eye Road and Neal Shore Road.
Police halted traffic at 11:46 a.m. Wednesday at the Meredith Traffic Circle that intersects with Parade Road and Upper Mile Point Drive. Traffic was also stopped at the intersection of Roller Coaster Road and Watson Road near the Tamarack Restaurant. The highway was reopened to all traffic at 1:53 p.m.
Police found one unnamed man during their search who was wanted on outstanding warrants in a completely unrelated matter. He was taken into custody, but further information on him was unavailable at deadline.
Police said Cuocolo should be considered armed and dangerous and ask anyone who sees him or who knows of his whereabouts to call Belmont Police at 267-8350, the New Hampshire State Police or their local police department.
– Gail Ober contributed to this story.
An unidentified man was taken away in handcuffs Wednesday when a sweep of the the Great Escape area of Meredith was searched for a suspected shooter. He had the misfortune of being found while having outstanding warrants for his arrest, but his situation had nothing to do with the shooting of a woman in Belmont Tuesday. (Bea Lewis/for The Laconia Daily Sun)