SWAT team descends on man living in Barnstead woods

Monitor staff
Friday, July 08, 2016

A SWAT team descended on a felon living in the Barnstead woods Thursday and arrested him, after police said he threatened the people on whose property he was staying.

Paul Elijah Tasker Jr. “made a comment that he would harm any police officer that tried to apprehend him,” Barnstead police Sgt. Doug Trottier said, which prompted his department to call for the help of a state police SWAT team and helicopter.

The 39-year-old Tasker surrendered peacefully as police performed a “tactical approach,” Trottier said, adding that the man had bullets on him, but no weapon.

Tasker is charged with felonies alleging criminal threatening with a firearm and being a felon in possession of a deadly weapon, Trottier said. Before his arrest, Tasker reportedly had a weapon in his possession.

Barnstead police also had a six-year-old warrant for Tasker’s arrest for a probation violation, and Pittsfield police had three warrants stemming from a “domestic violence-related” incident, the sergeant said.

Trottier said his agency recently learned that Tasker was living outdoors near the home of friends or family on Province Road, a rural neighborhood off Route 28. They received complaints that he was “making some threatening comments to people” and “was also shooting off firearms and things like that.”

Police began pursuing Tasker on Wednesday about 3:30 p.m., Trottier said, but decided to hold off until Thursday morning, when they had armed help from state police. Residents nearby were asked to stay in their homes while police worked to apprehend Tasker, the sergeant said.

“Being in the woods, he could have been anywhere, so you have to proceed with caution,” Trottier said.

Police moved on Tasker in the early morning Thursday, Trottier said, and arrested him without any trouble. He appeared in a mugshot to be bleeding from his shoulder; the sergeant said he’s unsure how the injury happened.

“I don’t know the guy. I’ve never met him. I’m not sure if this is normal behavior,” Trottier said. “When I met him, he was very quiet.”

Trottier said he was unsure what Tasker’s previous felony conviction was for.

Tasker is being held at the Belknap County jail and is scheduled to be arraigned today at 1 p.m. at the superior court, the sergeant said.

(Nick Reid can be reached at 369-3325, nreid@cmonitor.com or on Twitter at @NickBReid.)