Update: Gun fired inside residence near New England College came after verbal dispute

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  • Merrimack County Attorney Robin Davis speaks at a press conference Thursday about a shooting near the New England College campus in Henniker early Sunday morning. Behind Davis is New Hampshire State Police Major John Marasco and Henniker Police Chief Matthew French.  Geoff Forester—Monitor staff

  • Merrimack County Attorney Robin Davis speaks at a press conference Thursday about a shooting near the New England College campus in Henniker early Sunday morning. Geoff Forester—Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 2/13/2020 12:41:13 PM

A partygoer displayed a gun and fired it twice inside an off-campus residence near New England College early Sunday morning after a verbal altercation, officials said Thursday.

Three of the approximately 60 people attending the party at 4 Bridge St. were injured as a result of that gunfire and taken to Concord Hospital, which released them the same day, Merrimack County Attorney Robin Davis said during a press conference in Concord.

“At this time, we don’t believe any of the victims were targeted and that this was an isolated incident,” she said. “Therefore, we can say there is no immediate threat to the community or the student body.”

Two of the victims are current NEC students and one is a former NEC student, Vice President for Academic Affairs Wayne Lesperance said previously.

The specifics of that verbal exchange and the circumstances leading up to the discharge of the firearm remain unclear four days after the shooting, Davis said. She specified that the gun was not aimed at any one of the three victims when it was fired.

Authorities have not made an arrest but say their investigation is focused on individuals residing out-of-town and out-of-state who were in Henniker early Sunday for the house party. Davis declined to say specifically whether the police investigation has led to the identification of a suspect but said authorities “feel pretty confident” that they’ve identified all of the partygoers, both students of the college and those from outside the area.

Henniker Police Chief Matthew French said there will be an increased police presence in Henniker this weekend and in the immediate future, as a precaution and while the investigation continues. He said the county’s deputy sheriffs and state police are providing that assistance to the small town, whose police force could not otherwise do so on its own.

“As we move forward with this, obviously it is our hope that we can solve this crime in a reasonable manner,” French said.

French, who with Davis and New Hampshire State Police Lt. John Marasco, said New England College has been “tremendous” thus far with the investigation, providing information and coordinating student interviews. Davis echoed that sentiment, noting that police have spoken to dozens of witnesses who have been cooperative.

“We are encouraged that the college has made every effort to return the student body life back to normal. They have resumed their classes, their athletic events and their campus activity,” Davis said. “New England College will continue to have counseling and support services available to the student body for as long as is necessary.”

New England College, which hosts 1,106 residential students, canceled Monday’s classes but resumed a normal schedule Tuesday.

Lesperance told the Monitor that the college communicated with all parents Sunday by email about the incident, as well as through an emergency text message notification service. The college also did one-on-one outreach to the parents of those injured.

Police continue to ask anyone with information relevant to the incident to contact the New Hampshire State Police tip line at (603) MCU-TIPS or by email at MCU@dos.nh.gov.

(Alyssa Dandrea can be reached at 369-3319 or at adandrea@cmonitor.com.)

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