LACONIA — The attorney representing a former Laconia police recruit who allegedly threatened to stage a mass shooting at a police academy graduation last December said he is not surprised that prosecutors decided to drop the charges against his client.
“Both the [prosecution] and us contemplated from the beginning that this could be the outcome of the case,” attorney Mark Sisti said Wednesday of the decision earlier this month by the Merrimack County Attorney’s Office to drop the two felony charges on which Beaulieu was indicted in February.
Noah Beaulieu, 25, was accused of telling his fellow cadets at the state-run police academy that they should enter into a “suicide pact” and shoot up their graduation last Dec. 14.
Five fellow recruits told authorities they were frightened by Beaulieu’s remarks about getting cadets to shoot themselves, or wishing to shoot some recruits during the ceremony, or staging a mass shooting. Authorities arrested Beaulieu the day prior to the graduation and charged him with two counts of criminal threatening.
A call to Assistant Merrimack County Attorney Carley Ahern seeking comment about the decision to drop the charges was not returned Wednesday.
“While people need to be concerned about what other people say, when you dig down deep, one can see that Noah Beaulieu never intended to harm anybody,” Sisti said.
“Intent is everything,” Sisti said at the time of Beaulieu’s arrest. “The whole context of any statements that may have been made is going to have to be filtered through that whole lens of intent in order for there to be any kind of criminal act.”
Laconia Police Chief Matt Canfield said he had not been given a heads-up about the decision. He said he had reached out to the Merrimack County Attorney's Office for an explanation, but had not heard back as of Wednesday afternoon.
Beaulieu was held in preventive detention for four days following his arrest while a judge reviewed his mental health evaluation. He was released on his own recognizance on Dec. 17 on condition that he leave the state and not return except for court appearances or appointments with his lawyer; that he wear an electronic ankle bracelet; and that there be no firearms wherever he resided.
A judge authorized the removal of the electronic monitoring on April 18, and the Merrimack County Attorney’s Office dropped the charges on May 10.
One condition to having the charges dropped is that Beaulieu must be of good behavior for two years, Sisti said.
The lawyer said Beaulieu had been doing well since his release and is living out-of-state.
Canfield said a review of the department procedures for officer applicants conducted after Beaulieu's arrest showed the practices dealing with interviews, psychological assessments and background checks is thorough.
"The only way we could have prevented this from happening would have been to have predicted the future," Canfield said.