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Man in Concord graffiti case survives self-inflicted gunshot wound

Raymond Stevens, 42, of Pembroke.

Raymond Stevens, 42, of Pembroke.

The tattoo artist accused of scrawling racist messages on the homes of African refugees in south Concord attempted to kill himself late last week, walking into a Hopkinton cemetery and firing at least one bullet into his head, a court filing and officials with knowledge of the incident have confirmed.

Raymond Stevens, 43, of Pembroke reportedly survived the shooting. His present health status is uncertain. He is believed to have been transferred from Concord Hospital to a medical facility in the Boston region sometime after the shooting occurred last Thursday afternoon. Employees at several hospitals could not confirm yesterday whether Stevens was a patient; information on individuals being treated for gun wounds or other possibly criminal-related injuries is not typically publicly disclosed.

Stevens’s public defender, Melinda Siranian, and the assistant county attorney prosecuting him on the graffiti charge, David Rotman, each declined to comment. A message sent to Stevens’s wife was not returned.

Stevens was arrested last month following a two-year Concord police investigation. He had been out on bail at the time of last week’s shooting and was required under the conditions of his release to refrain from possessing or using a firearm.

On Tuesday, Rotman filed a motion in Merrimack County Superior Court to revoke his bail, which stated that Stevens had shot himself in the head; a possible hearing on that motion has not been scheduled. County Attorney Scott Murray said his staff has yet to decide whether they will pursue additional charges for contempt of bail.

Hopkinton police Chief Stephen Pecora declined to comment on the incident. Henniker police Chief Ryan Murdoch said he and another of his officers helped in the response, arriving at the Old Hopkinton Cemetery on Main Street near the town’s historical society at 2:28 p.m.

Other officials, who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the matter, said the police had been tipped off by Stevens’s wife. Stevens, they said, entered the cemetery and held the gun sideways against his head, pulling the trigger at least once, but doing so at a nonfatal angle. It’s unclear at what point he fired the weapon in relation to when officers arrived.

Before his arrest last month, Stevens had a prominent online presence, at times posting several racially tinged statements and graphics on his Facebook page each day. He has since retracted or hidden much of that from public view. Last Thursday, however, he publicly posted a dark image on his profile: a white skeleton against a black backdrop with what appear to be roots spiraling up and over its frame, a flock of white doves flying overhead.

Stevens’s arraignment in superior court, which had been scheduled for yesterday morning, was canceled last week after Siranian filed a written not-guilty plea on his behalf.

Stevens was indicted by a grand jury Oct. 17 on a special felony charge of criminal mischief. The charge alleges he caused damage in excess of $1,500 to four homes occupied by refugee families in south Concord in 2011 and 2012 – an offense that could bring a prison sentence of up to 30 years because of a state statute prohibiting hate crimes. Stevens was a resident of the South End at the time the crimes were committed, the police have said.

The messages Stevens is accused of authoring were etched in black marker across the clapboard siding of the homes and declared that the city had been tarnished by the refugees’ arrivals from Rwanda, Somalia and the Congo.

Stevens is the owner of a tattoo parlor in Nashua and an active member in various white supremacist groups, according to a police affidavit from the case. He also sings in a heavy metal band, using the stage name RayPissed.

(Jeremy Blackman can be reached at 369-3319, jblackman@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @JBlackmanCM.)

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