Man accused of GOP car vandalism denied bail due to his mental health and weapons found at home

Lawrence Dunlap

Lawrence Dunlap

By CATHERINE McLAUGHLIN

Monitor staff

Published: 04-29-2024 2:04 PM

Modified: 04-29-2024 5:02 PM


A Concord man accused of keying the cars of 11 state Republican party members was denied bail Monday after prosecutors argued that he presented a safety threat to himself and others.

Lawrence Dunlap will remain in the county jail despite objections from his lawyer that the state’s support for this claim, a “manifesto/suicide note” and a duffle bag containing weapons found in his home, had been mis-contextualized.

“We don’t believe that the mental health issues described by the state have any reasonable nexus to the charges before the court, which as we understand them related to the question of whether or not somebody scratched a number of cars,” Jim Rosenberg, Dunlap’s attorney, said after the arraignment.

Concord Police arrested Dunlap Friday after an investigation found surveillance footage of someone matching his description with a vehicle registered in his name appearing to scratch the cars of victims outside the NHGOP convention at Concord High School earlier this month.

When police searched Dunlap’s van and South Spring Street residence, they found a bag with multiple sets of latex gloves and flex cuffs, a billy club, a medieval mace, and dark clothing and face masks, according to an affidavit. Police also found a “manifesto/suicide note” that, in addition to an intention to end his own life, stated in part, “I truly despise all humanity and all the filth we have accepted as acceptable. This world and economy requires more personalities like Scott Herzog and Donald Trump.” Eight firearms, including an AR-15, were also found in the home, according to Deputy Chief John Thomas.

Dunlap struggled in the last several months with depression and suicidal ideation – as his wife told Concord Police – which had caused him to lose employment as a realtor and mechanic, Rosenberg told the court. But the note had been written late last year, and Dunlap had since sought mental healthcare and been prescribed medication.

Rosenberg, while acknowledging it may not explain the contents of what Concord Police called a “go-bag,” also noted that Dunlap has a family military history and is “a collector of historic artifacts from the military.” He emphasized that the guns are kept in a locked safe, the keys to which had been kept by Dunlap’s wife since her husband’s mental health declined late last year.

“This concern for a firearm identified by the state has no nexus, we believe, to the charges,” Rosenberg said. “It just makes him a firearm owner.” He continued that, if Dunlap were granted bail, he would have a strong support system in the area, including family who attended the arraignment Monday.

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Citing both the weapons in the home and an interview with prosecutors over the weekend where Dunlap disclosed current “significant mental health issues” including anxiety, Judge Sarah Christie expressed concern for the safety of the community and granted the state’s request to hold Dunlap on preventative detention. He is currently in the jail’s medical unit.

Any political angle to the crime was absent from the state’s arguments Monday. Dunlap’s social media does not indicate he had an active political presence online – one post from 2020 expressed skepticism of the state’s pandemic response, and another from January 6, 2021 blamed Trump for the violence in Washington.

While other events were going on at Concord High School the day of the vandalism, Concord police have said they believe all victims were attendees of the Republican convention.