Standoff after man fires shots near officer

By GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — A portion of Country Club Road was closed Friday as police surrounded the home of a man who allegedly fired three shots near a police officer who had gone to the home to serve him with a stalking notice.

05-13 Ernest Lee ThompsonPolice identified him as Ernest Lee Thompson, 32, of 246 Country Club Road and he is charged with two counts of felony criminal threatening, one count of improper influence, or refusing to be served a summons, and one count of felony reckless conduct.

According to Laconia Police Chief Chris Adams, an officer went to the home to serve Thompson with a notice that he was to appear in court for hearing on a stalking position.

He said Thompson allegedly first came out of the home with his dogs in a menacing manner and then returned inside. He came back out with a gun tucked into his waistband and fired numerous shots into the ground near the officer.

The officer was unharmed was able to back away and call for assistance. Additional responding officers saw a shirtless Thompson waving around a gun while he was in his front yard.

Police said Thompson was driving a tractor around the property and they presumed he was still armed. At one point, police radio transmission indicated he went to a barn police heard loud banging from inside. Transmissions also said he had a sledgehammer.

Police from Laconia, Gilford, Belmont and the New Hampshire State Police surrounded the area while the Belknap County Special Operations Group prepared to enter.

Thompson was taken into custody within about 30 minutes of the SWAT team entering into the area.

County Club Road was closed from Barbara Boulevard on the Gilford side to about the middle of Frank Bean Road on the Laconia side. The nearest neighbors were evacuated and others in the area were told to shelter in place.

At one point during the incident, an unidentified woman was brought to the temporary command center across from Giguere Electric where she had some kind of heated argument with police. After the incident, she was seen speaking with the state police.

Police obtained a search warrant for the home and were searching at press time.

In Laconia, Woodland Heights School was placed on soft lock-down until police notified the district that the situation had resolved, said business administrator Ed Emond. Buses from Woodland Heights were delayed by 10 to 15 minutes, he said, and students at other city schools who live near Woodland Heights were kept at their schools for pick up by parents.

Scott Isabelle, assistant superintendent for business at Gilford School District said all of the students who were supposed to take a bus down Country Club Road were asked to meet at the elementary school for pickup and/or delayed bus service.

Thompson was arrested in October of 2015 for threatening to kill all the firefighters whom he blamed for "killing his girlfriend" by giving her Narcan. A report was made to police by the employer of a woman who said she heard his threats when she stopped by to offer her condolences to him. He later pleaded guilty in the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division to one count of disorderly conduct.

Thompson refused bail Friday after being booked into the Belknap County House of Corrections and will appear by video in Circuit Court on Monday morning.

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A member of the Belknap County Special Operation Group prepares to join police from multiple agencies to search for a man who allegedly fire a gun near a police officer who served him papers at his house on Country Club Road. (Gail Ober photo/Laconia Daily Sun)

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Police and fire vehicles line Frank Bean Road Friday afternoon as officers from multiple agencies surrounded a home on Country Club Road where a man who fired a gun near a lone officer was holed up.(Gail Ober photo/Laconia Daily Sun)

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GILFORD Master Patrol Officer Doug Wall escorts an unknown woman to speak with Laconia Police Chief Chris Adams during a search for an armed man on Country Club Drive.(Gail Ober photo/Laconia Daily Sun)

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Belknap County Sheriff Craig Wiggin directs the Belknap Region Special Operations Group as one team readies to leave on foot and one team prepares to go in with a Bear Cat.(Gail Ober photo/Laconia Daily Sun)

St. Vincent de Paul celebrates 25 years

By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — "It's not the 25 years," said Erika Johnson, president of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, which is celebrating its anniversary on Monday, "it's the number of hours people have put in helping others because they care about the community."
The society traces its roots and keeps its headquarters in France, where in 1833 Frederic Ozanam, a student at the Sorbonne and fervent Catholic, grew weary of critics chiding the church for failing to succor the poor. He founded the Conference of Charity, which soon became the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, named after the priest who in 1625 formed the Confraternities of Charity, associations of laywomen of the church that visited, fed and nursed the poor and infirm in and around Paris.
The first conference of the Society in the United States was established at the Basilica of St. Louis, known as the "Old Cathedral," in St. Louis in 1845 and grew rapidly. Today it counts 172,000 members in 4,600 communities who serve 14 million people each year.
The Society in Laconia sprang from the initiative of Father Rodrigue Gallant, pastor of St. Joseph Church in Belmont and Father Micael Griffin, pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Laconia, whose notice in the parish newsletter drew the first volunteers.
In Laconia, the society numbers 130 volunteers who provide foodstuffs to 1,100 people in some 360 households each month. Jo Carignan, who manages the food pantry, said that her team provides more than $560,000 worth of food to needy families each year, including the 800 baskets, each with a turkey, distributed at Thanksgiving.
The thrift store sells and donates new and used clothing, furniture, housewares and appliances contributed by families and businesses, applying the proceeds to its other programs. The society donates approximately $25,000 worth of items each year. Each year the society provides more than $150,000 of financial assistance in the form of rent payments, security deposits, utility bills, dental and medical fees and even repair bills to needy individuals and families. And the Children's Foundation provides educational assistance for educational and medical needs as well as extracurricular activities and child care for children in both public and parochial schools.
"We never close the door to anybody," Johnson said
Johnson said that perhaps the greatest reward is to see someone who came to the society seeking help return in the role of a benefactor or donor. She recalled a Saudi Arabian man who received assistance from the Society who brought a collection of toys to be distributed to others at Christmas. Another man who came seeking clothing after his release from jail, returned clean shaven, in a suit and tie to say that was employed and make a donation. "My heart goes out to all of them," she said.
Carignan described many of those who seek assistance as "working families with two adults, often both working two jobs, who are just not making it." She added that she is especially troubled by the growing number of "18- to 28-year-olds with no job, no skills, no education and no common sense. We're seeing a lot more that," she said.
Johnson said that the success of the society stems from the generosity of the people of the Lakes Region. "It starts with the children," she remarked, noting that children having birthday parties ask their guests to bring food rather than toys, then make a donation, while the kids with the lemonade stand at Temple B'nai Israel donate their proceeds to the society.
Johnson stressed that the society consists solely of volunteers. "There are no paid employees," she said.
"They are here because they care and they work when they are here," echoed Carignan, who added "You have to have a reason to get out of bed in the morning. You have to have a purpose."

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Erika Johnson, president of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, left, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary, shares the occasion with veteran volunteers, to her left, Jeanette Buckley, Jo Carignan and John Peavey (Laconia Daily Sun photo/ Michael Kitch)

Country Club Road blocked due to police standoff

LACONIA — Access to Country Club Road is blocked from Barbara Boulevard, and Frank Bean Road is closed as of 2:30 p.m. due to police action in response to a man with a gun.

According to Laconia Police Chief Chris Adams, police came to serve a stalking notice to a Country Club Road resident. He said the man grabbed a handgun and fired at least three rounds, not necessarily aimed at the officer but in the general vicinity of the officer. The special operations group arrived at 2:35 p.m. with two Bear Cats and a Hum-vee. State police, Belmont, Gilford and Laconia Police have set up four perimeters around the house. The man was also reported to be carrying a sledge hammer.

– Gail Ober

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