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Woman killed by police in Manchester identified

Authorities investigate at the scene of last night's shooting in Manchester.  (Jeffrey Hastings / For the Monitor)

Authorities investigate at the scene of last night's shooting in Manchester. (Jeffrey Hastings / For the Monitor)

The owner of the car shot up by the state police Monday evening in Manchester has identified the woman driving it and killed during or soon after the barrage as Wendy Lawrence, a 45-year-old former Allenstown resident.

While officials remained silent on the officer-involved shooting and the chase that immediately preceded it, Shawn Healey, who dispatchers had identified Monday as the owner of the vehicle, a maroon Chevy Monte Carlo, said he had been in touch with the police and with Lawrence’s boyfriend, Charles Peter, regarding her death. Lawrence had been storing and using the car occasionally for the past eight months, Healey said, adding that, from what he knew, she had been visiting friends before the chase.

“None of us know what happened,” Healey said. “This doesn’t fit with (Wendy’s) character. She was a fun person to be around. She was not an aggressive person. . . . She would take the shirt off her back for anybody.”

But according to court documents, Lawrence also had a string of recent run-ins with law enforcement, including misdemeanor charges for possessing marijuana, driving while under the influence, driving with a revoked or suspended license, obstructing the report of a crime and for assaulting Peter last year, as well as a 2008 felony count for driving despite having been deemed an habitual offender by the Division of Motor Vehicles in 2002.

Lawrence was most recently arrested and charged in December with drug possession and resisting arrest after she allegedly struggled with officers, to which, along with two previous charges, she pleaded no contest in July. Part of her sentences have included mental health counseling, the documents indicate.

Senior Assistant Attorney General Jeffery Strelzin confirmed yesterday afternoon that an autopsy on the victim had been completed, but said his office was not prepared to release new information regarding the shootout, the events leading up to it or the identities of either the woman killed or the officer, or officers, who shot her. An official release is expected this morning.

The shootout took place about 6:30 p.m. Monday near the intersection of Dave Street and Kennard Road in Manchester, and followed a vehicle pursuit that authorities said originated on Interstate 89 in Bow. It’s still unclear how that chase began. A police dispatcher told officers at the time that the car was being pursued for “disobeying,” but gave no further details. Neither the state nor the Bow police returned requests for comment yesterday.

Witnesses Monday night reported hearing several gunshots, and the windshield of Healey’s car was visibly peppered with 11 bullet holes on the driver’s side.

Deb Maldonado, who lives on Dave Street about 200 feet from the scene, said yesterday morning she had been home with five of her nine young children when the shooting began. After moving them to the basement and locking the doors, she called three of her other children, who were out walking their dog, and told them not to move.

“It was really scary,” Maldonado said.

Healey said Lawrence had recently been living in Canterbury, and, to his knowledge, had driven the car only sporadically, typically calling him before she did.

“I’d never had a problem with it until I heard about this,” he said.

Healey said Lawrence was employed at the Concord branch of Mount Washington College, and had previously worked as a baker in Allenstown and a DJ in Suncook. On what appears to have been her Facebook page, Lawrence described herself as a “simple” person who loved to ride motorcycles and “to go out and enjoy life to the fullest.”

“You only live once,” she wrote.

Healey said he had known Lawrence for about a decade, and described her as a caring, compassionate friend, someone whose character did not warrant the action taken by the police Monday.

“She drank and liked to have a good time,” he said, adding that on rare occasions that could lead to somewhat abrasive behavior. “A little bit of drama here and there, but nothing crazy.”

Peter, who couldn’t be reached for comment, told the Union Leader he had been dating Lawrence for 3½ years.

“They pretty much executed her,” he told the newspaper of the shooting.

From what he had learned, Healey said he was inclined to agree.

“I don’t know what the cop was thinking,” he said. “I’m trying to be fair to both sides. But yeah, that seems excessive.”

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

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