Inside job?

Three arrested for robbery at Laconia McDonald’s

By RICK GREEN, LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — Police arrested three people Wednesday in connection with an armed robbery at a McDonald's, including a 20-year-old man who was working there at the time of the crime.

"He was the person who was approached at the store. It looks staged," Laconia police Sgt. Mike Finogle said. "He emptied out a cash drawer."

An interaction between the employee and the robber was captured on videotape just before the crime.

"There was definitely some suspicious behavior on a preliminary viewing of the video," Finogle said. "It was an interaction between the two of them that caught our eye."

During the robbery, a man in dark clothing lifted his shirt to show a weapon, possibly a gun or knife, in his waistband, Finogle said.

Arrested at a residence on Varney Court were Ricky A. Davis, 21, of Wakefield; Brandon M. Miles, 20, of Laconia, and Danielle S. Maupin, 20, of Gilford.

Davis, who refused bail, is accused of armed robbery.

Miles, who also refused bail, was employed at the restaurant at 1231 Union Ave. He and Maupin, who was released on her own recognizance, are charged with conspiracy.

After the robbery, a police dog followed a scent for about one-quarter mile south of the restaurant, and then lost the track where the suspect may have entered a vehicle and left the area, Finogle said.

He also said some evidence was also found along that path but didn't give specifics or say how much money was taken from the restaurant. No weapon was recovered.

The president of the ownership group for the restaurant issued a statement.

"The safety of our employees and customers is our utmost priority," said Jeremy Hinton, president of the Napoli Group. "None of our crew members were injured in the incident and we are cooperating fully with the local police in their investigation." 

Brandon Miles

Brandon Miles

Ricky Davis

Ricky Davis

Alton officer cleared after shooting at car

By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — An Alton police officer was justified in firing one shot at a motor vehicle, the driver of which failed to heed his signals and shouts to slow as he passed the scene of an earlier accident on Feb. 25, concluded Belknap County Attorney Melissa Guldbrandsen.

Following an investigation of the incident by the New Hampshire State Police, Guldbrandsen issued a memo on Tuesday , finding that in the circumstances the conduct of Officer Michael Beaucham "was legally justified" and consequently criminal charges will not be brought against him.

According to the memo, around 7 p.m. Beauchamp was near the junction of Route 140 and Youngstown Road where an impaired driver, traveling westbound had veered off the pavement to his right, hit a tree, careened back onto the road, spun around and came to rest off the eastbound lane facing in the opposite direction. The roadway, lined with snow banks, was wet and it a "dark, misty and foggy" evening.

About an hour later, Beauchamp was clearing the scene of the accident. A tow truck, carrying the damaged car, was in the eastbound lane with Beauchamp's cruiser behind it and two vehicles stopped behind the cruiser. Beauchamp was directing traffic using the open westbound lane. The blue emergency lights on the cruiser and the yellow emergency lights on the tow truck were on.

When an approaching westbound vehicle, driven by Erik Klerk, 50, of Alton, did not appear to be slowing, Beauchamp stepped into the travel lane and signaled with his flashlight. According to Beauchamp and a half dozen witnesses, Klerk failed to slow, and three witnesses reported that he appeared to accelerate. Beauchamp smartly moved aside as the vehicle "passed within inches of him," and he discharged his firearm, firing one shot in the door on the driver's side.

Beauchamp reported that the vehicle was speeding and accelerating. He said he did not recall drawing or firing his weapon, but said he believed "the vehicle was going to kill him." The officer's description of the incident was confirmed by witnesses. The tow truck operator estimated Klerk was traveling at more than 40 mph. The driver of a U-Haul truck watching Klerk said he was driving "erratically" and did not slow. Two witnesses described Klerk as "flying" through the scene.

Beauchamp returned to his cruiser, turned around and stopped Klerk, who after breath test was found to have a blood alcohol level of 0.26, more than three times the legal limit. He was charged with aggravated driving under the influence. Klerk would later admit he had drunk alcohol before the incident, but claimed he had slowed and stopped when he heard a bang, thinking he had hit something in the road.

Guldbrandsen noted that the law stipulates that "a law enforcement officer is justified in using deadly force only when he reasonably believes such force is necessary." Furthermore, she cites the United States Supreme Court, which held that "the calculus of reasonableness must embody allowance for the fact that police officers are often forced to make split-second judgments — in circumstances that are tense, uncertain and rapidly evolving — about the amount of force that is necessary in a particular situation."

While acknowledging there is no evidence Klerk intended to harm Beauchamp or anyone else, Guldbrandsen found that "a reasonable police officer could reasonable believe that this vehicle ... posed a threat to himself or another person " and "it was not unreasonable to infer that the driver posed an imminent threat of deadly force." At the same time, she said that shooting at the vehicle posed risks, to an innocent passenger or of leaving the car in the control of a dead or wounded driver.

After recounting the incident, Guldbrandsen concluded "taking all this into consideration, although the call is close, the use of deadly force in this case was justified." She added that Beauchamp responded to "a rapidly evolving scene" and "reacted, based upon his training, to protect the scene and the people in it." Moreover, she said "It can't be ignored that the officer placed himself in danger of death or serious bodily injury in good faith to protect others."

$324,684 saved

City Council approves $150K to cover Weirs utility project overrun, Eversource to cover remainder

By RICK GREEN, LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — A dispute over the cost of burying power lines in a major improvement project at The Weirs has been resolved, with the City Council agreeing to provide an additional $150,000 over three years.

Eversource originally estimated the cost of putting the lines underground along Lakeside Avenue at $311,316. Last month, it said the cost would not exceed $786,000.

The difference between the two projections is $474,684. 

The company agreed to limit the city's responsibility for the overage to $150,000, and council members approved that expenditure on Monday night, with $50,000 payments in the 2018, 2019, and 2020 fiscal years. Eversource will be responsible for the rest of the overage.

The overall Weirs improvement project includes street lighting, crosswalks, sidewalks and brickwork. It is being funded at a cost of $1.6 million through Tax Increment Financing, which allows debt to be serviced through property value increases in a defined district.

Council members had the option of covering the overage by scaling back the project, but opted to go forward with all planned improvements.

"I really think that doing anything other than what we originally planned would cheapen it," Councilor Ava Doyle said. "If we're going to do it, we need to do it right. We're trying to make everyone proud of this community."

Joe Driscoll, a member of the Weirs Action Committee, also asked the City Council not to cut back on the project.

"It's very unfortunate that somehow the financing got a little wacky," he said. "This is a beautiful project that has the complete support of the entire Weirs Beach community and will set up the Weirs Beach area for the future."

Kaitlyn Woods, a spokeswoman for Eversource, said the company will examine why the estimated cost of the project changed so drastically. At a public meeting Thursday, company officials did not dispute that the man hours needed to complete the project may have been underestimated in the first projection.

There may also have been a misunderstanding of the project deadline. While all improvement work needs to be complete by Memorial Day, the utility work must be done earlier to ensure the rest of the project stays on time.  

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