Violent juvenile activity remains a top concern for Concord police

Monitor staff
Published: 2/15/2020 3:36:15 PM

Just five days into the new year, Concord police responded to a home on Gladstone Street where at least one gunshot had shattered a window.

There were reports of multiple people and vehicles in the area at the time of the call, but, to date, no arrests have been made. Police are still analyzing ballistic evidence and working to identify the person who pulled the trigger, placing residents in the neighborhood near Grappone and White parks in danger of serious injury.

The shooting is part of what police in the Capital City have identified as a concerning and steady trend of violence among a group of young people, ages 14 to 18, that they’ve linked to gang activity. While guns and drugs have always gone hand-in-hand, Concord Det. Sgt. Rob Buelte said in an interview Friday with the Monitor that the department is seeing firearms in the possession of teenagers and/or their friends at an even younger age.

“When we deal with this type of gang-related behaviors, we often find that the young people were from broken homes or that adults, already engaged in crime, targeted them as their soldiers,” Buelte said, noting that juveniles are sometimes pawned because they face far fewer penalties than those criminally charged as adults.

In spring 2019, police responded to Beacon Street for a report of a shot fired. No one was hurt and there was no damage to homes or vehicles as a result of the May 11 incident. However, police said it is another example of gun activity by a handful of teenagers in the area who – often assisted by adults – are trading firearms faster than police can track them.

Citing the ongoing investigation into January’s shooting on Gladstone Street, police aren’t saying whether they’ve established a link between the Gladstone Street shooting and the one last year on Beacon; however, they acknowledge it’s something they’re looking into.

“We’ve also received several reports (since 2018) of people who said they saw kids with guns during a drug deal or that they displaced a gun as a threat,” Buelte said. “Thankfully, the actual discharge of a gun happens far less.”

The most widely publicized incident from the past couple of years happened on Nov. 4, 2018. Outside the Penacook Place Apartments, police responded to a botched robbery that nearly took a fatal turn. Authorities allege that Devon Gilligan, who was 17 at the time, had communicated over social media about plans to sell four grams of marijuana for $20 but that he had actually intended to rob the man, who he knew only on Snapchat, with the help of two friends. Gilligan, who was arrested at age 18 and charged as an adult, is still awaiting trial on several felony charges, including attempted murder.

“That was our first big case and it was one that elevated our concerns,” Buelte said. “I would say that activity has remained steady despite Gilligan.”

Buelte said police are seeing some of the same young people cycle through the juvenile justice system time and time again, and that he is concerned, for some, that the John H. Sununu Youth Services Center has a revolving door.

The use of social media to meet people and set up these drug deals is also changing how these crimes are perpetrated and, in turn, how police respond to them. Buelte said social media also presents a challenge for parents who may be trying to monitor their teenager’s activities, but aren’t necessarily familiar with the platforms they’re using or the options available to hide applications on cellphones.

Buelte said investigators are working against a “no snitch culture” among teenagers who fear retaliation if they cooperate with an investigation and provide police with information.

“It’s important for people to remember that an investigation can be started anonymously through the Concord Regional Crimeline,” Buelte said. “We want people to continue to report suspicious activity to us, no matter what it is. If we, as a culture, embrace this mindset of not reporting, the more we let these types of incidents happen.”

The crimeline is staffed 24 hours a day and can be reached at 226-3100. The crimeline serves Allenstown, Barnstead, Boscawen, Bow, Canterbury, Chichester, Concord, Deering, Dunbarton, Epsom, Franklin, Henniker, Hillsboro, Hopkinton, Loudon, Pembroke, Pittsfield, Salisbury, Webster and the Merrimack County Sheriff’s Department.




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