ALTON — Police took an 11-year-old boy into custody Friday morning in the shooting of two adults – one of whom died – a crime that forced school lockdowns until officers could find the child, law enforcement officials said.
The shooting occurred at about 7:30 in a home at 76 Dobbins Way, a new residential development in the woods near the New Durham town line, said Geoffrey Ward, New Hampshire senior assistant Attorney General.
Ward identified the deceased as Lizette Eckert, 50, and said the other shooting victim, 48-year-old James Eckert, was in critical condition at Portsmouth Regional Hospital.
Ward declined to characterize the relationship between the two victims.
The child faces juvenile charges of reckless 2nd-degree murder and attempted murder, Ward said during an evening news conference in Alton.
After the shooting was reported to police, the boy was apprehended about two hours later after a search of the woods near the home, Ward said.
He called it "an incredibly tragic incident."
Alton Police Chief Ryan Heath held a brief morning news conference to say officers went to the home for a report of a shooting and in his words, "the scene evolved into much, much more."
The Belknap Regional Strategic Operations Group was mobilized to search the woods surrounding the home, and schools in Alton were temporarily placed in lock-down status, with armed security on-scene.
At 10:30 a.m., Heath briefed reporters and said the suspect had been apprehended and that there was no danger to the public.
After the lockdown was lifted, Alton Central School Principal John MacArthur put out a message saying "all students and staff are and continue to be safe here." He said the school day "will resume as normal."
Pamela Stiles, superintendent of SAU 72, said in a posting on Facebook that the family involved in the incident was not enrolled at Alton Central School. But, she added, community ties between neighbors can bring about strong emotions. If your child feels the need to talk with a guidance counselor, or any other adult they feel comfortable with, please contact Mr. MacArthur at 875-7500 or firstname.lastname@example.org so that he can ensure that the contact is made."
News of the quickly spread throughout town of 2,500.
Shelby Carpenter, a clerk at Alton Village Store and Gas, said people who stopped by the store didn’t know the names of the family involved, but were still taken aback by what they had heard.
“It’s a quiet town, nothing like this really happens,” Carpenter said.
A patron of the store, Chip Pasquariello, said, “It’s tragic – beyond tragic.”
“I think a lot of people are in shock that something like this happened,” Carpenter said.
“Just think of how many lives are ruined,” Pasquariello added.
In New Durham, Johnson’s Marketplace sells cut meats and craft beers for people on their way home from work. It also sits at the corner of Route 11 and Berry Road, less than two miles from Dobbins Way.
Jon Fillion, who runs the market, said customers who stopped in had heard all kinds of rumors – some including outlandish details. But even the basic versions of the story were enough to leave people shaking their heads.
“Everyone comes in and says this is totally shocking, I can’t believe it happened,” Fillion said.