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Taking pictures of women in Henniker bar leads to gunshot, arrests, police say

The Henniker police said two arrests and one gunshot occurred early Saturday morning after a man refused to stop taking pictures of women in a bar, angering another man.

That led to a confrontation in the parking lot of the Gin Gin Restaurant, where Jeffrey Wigsten of Henniker provoked a fight with Joseph Wilcox of Sunapee, the police said. Wilcox, the police said, pulled out a gun and fired a shot, bringing Officer Matthew O’Connor, sitting in his cruiser across the street in a bank parking lot, rushing to the scene. Backup quickly arrived and helped with the arrests.

No one was hurt, and it’s not clear if Wilcox actually tried to shoot Wigsten.

“That’s still under investigation,” Henniker Detective Stephen Dennis said yesterday. “But they were in close proximity.”

Dennis said Wigsten became angry with Wilcox for taking pictures of various women, including Wigsten’s girlfriend. An employee who works for Wilcox at his auto repair shop in Bradford said Wigsten’s girlfriend also works at the repair shop, as a part-time bookkeeper. Wigsten and Wilcox knew one another before the incident, the employee said, but were not friends.

“An argument ensued, and of course there was alcohol involved,” Dennis said. “Jeff Wigsten went outside and then Mr. Wilcox went outside and Mr. Wigsten basically started a fight with him, and during the fight the weapon was brandished, at which point it was pointed in the direction of Mr. Wigsten and discharged.”

Dennis said Wilcox, 51, had a permit to carry a concealed weapon.

A Henniker phone number listed under Wigsten’s name was disconnected when called yesterday.

Wilcox has owned an auto repair shop for about 20 years, said Dave Ellis, an employee at the shop who was reached there by phone. Ellis, who’s been working off and on for Wilcox over the past seven years, said he’s spoken to his boss every few hours since the arrests were made, shortly after midnight Saturday morning.

Ellis said Wigsten reacted angrily when Wilcox snapped a few photos of several women in the bar, adding that Wilcox was ambushed in the parking lot by Wigsten before firing the warning shot to keep Wigsten away.

Ellis said that Wilcox walks with a distinct limp from knee and back injuries suffered in two motor vehicle accidents years ago, which is why he carries a gun. “He’s like a turtle when he’s on the ground,” Ellis said. “He has a gun for self protection. He can’t fight.”

After the shot was fired and several witnesses yelled for someone to call the police, O’Connor found Wilcox kneeling in the parking lot with a handgun by his side, and Wigsten standing in the distance, taking cover behind a parked car.

Henniker police officers Nicholas Rinaldi and Matthew Mitchell soon joined O’Connor, and the arrests were made

Wigsten, 47, was charged with simple assault and released this weekend on $2,500 cash bail.

Wilcox was charged with felony attempted aggravated assault. Bail had been set at $25,000 but was lowered to $10,000 cash, a clerk at Hillsboro’s district court said yesterday. Wilcox will be back in district court for a probable cause hearing next Tuesday.

Dennis would not speculate if the charge against Wilcox could be dropped or reduced under the state’s stand-your-ground law, which allows citizens to use deadly force anywhere they have a right to be if they feel their lives are in danger.

“We’re not going to comment on that right now,” Dennis said. “It’s all still under investigation, and there are two sides to every story, of course. We just have to take the information that’s gathered and deal with the case we have right here.”

(Ray Duckler can be reached at 369-3304 or
rduckler@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @rayduckler.)

Where are the pictures?

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