"It is the ultimate act of defiance for someone to shoot a police officer when he's doing his duties."
By Maria Cramer and Michael Levenson, Globe staff The Boston Globe
FRANCONIA, N. H. — Authorities met earlier today to make funeral arrangements for police Corporal Bruce McKay, who was gunned down Friday by a local man who was then fatally shot by a passing driver trying to help the stricken policeman.
Flowers are seen on an old fire engine at the police and fire station in Franconia, N.H., Saturday. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
The flag outside the white clapboard town hall was at half mast, and condolences were pouring in to the families and friends of McKay, 48, a veteran police officer, who was shot four times by Liko Kenney, 24, after a traffic stop Friday evening, police and prosecutors said yesterday. Kenney then ran over the officer and was shot by witness Gregory W. Floyd when Kenney refused to drop his gun, according to authorities.
New Hampshire authorities said yesterday that they would not press charges against Floyd, a former Marine who was driving with his son along Route 116 in Franconia when he saw Kenney shoot McKay. After Kenney drove his Toyota Celica over McKay as the officer lay on the ground, Floyd grabbed the officer's service weapon and shot and killed Kenney.
Authorities said the double shooting was the bloody climax of a long-simmering feud between McKay, a 12-year-veteran of the three-member department, and Kenney, a cousin of World Cup champion skier Bode Miller.
In 2003, Kenney was convicted of assaulting McKay, authorities said. Kenney had contended that McKay had assaulted him, breaking his jaw and leaving him in a coma, according to Bode Miller's father, Woody.
"It was a bad mixture waiting to happen," said Connie McKenzie , a nurse who said she had tried to ad minister CPR to McKay on the lawn in front of her 18th-century farmhouse on Route 116. "They hated each other."
New Hampshire's attorney general, Kelly A. Ayotte, said Floyd will not face charges because he was justified in using deadly force. "Based on the results of the investigation, our conclusion is that Gregory Floyd's actions were justified based upon dangerous circumstances confronted with and efforts to assist McKay," Ayotte said at a news conference in Concord.
Captain Russell Conte of the New Hampshire State Police condemned the slaying of McKay, a New York native who had a 9-year-old daughter, Courtney, and in June was to marry his fiancée, who has a 14-year-old daughter, Kylea.
"Something this egregious affects everyone in law enforcement, and it is the ultimate act of defiance for someone to shoot a police officer when he's doing his duties," Conte said.
The shooting has shaken this skiing town 75 miles north of Concord.
"The world I want does not include cops and 20 year olds shooting each other," said sixty-four year old Jenny Deupree, who had set up a sign on the lawn outside the town hall that read "Peace, Justice and Sustainability." She was there for a Mothers Day vigil that had been planned weeks before Friday's shooting.
Sally Small, the town administrative assistant, remembered McKay as "a nice guy" and a professional at his job.
"Obviously he and Liko Kenney had issues, but there were just as many people who thought he was very professional," she said. "He was usually the officer who would prosecute cases at the court. He did his job."
The attack unfolded Friday at about 6:30 p.m. after McKay stopped Kenney for speeding on Route 116, a two-lane country road dotted with wooden barns in this rugged, picturesque town 80 miles north of Concord.
Neighbors said Kenney was driving home from his job at a market in nearby Littleton with a friend, identified by authorities as Caleb Macaulay, 21. Kenney told McKay to "get another officer," and then he sped off, according to Ayotte. McKay gave chase in his cruiser, caught Kenney about a mile and a half down the road, and stopped his car in front of Kenney's car, forcing Kenney to stop. McKay then sprayed Kenney with OC spray, an irritant similar to pepper spray, and backed away from the vehicle, Ayotte said.
Kenney pulled out a .45-caliber handgun and shot McKay four times. As McKay stumbled across the road, bleeding, Kenney ran his vehicle over the dying officer, Ayotte said.
Floyd, who had been driving by in a Chevrolet Tahoe with his son, also named Gregory P. Floyd, saw the entire scene, Ayotte said. A video camera in McKay's cruiser also recorded the shooting, Ayotte said.
The elder Floyd drove his Tahoe into a spot between McKay and Kenney as a shield and told his son, who is in his late teens, to run to the officer's cruiser and radio for help.
The elder Floyd picked up McKay's gun from the ground and ordered Kenney to drop his weapon. Kenney refused, and Floyd saw Kenney appear to be reloading, Conte said. Floyd then shot and killed Kenney, Conte said.
The slayings brought to light a deep history of tensions between members of the Kenney family and McKay. In 2003, Kenney had challenged the assault charge, alleging that McKay had assaulted him and broken his jaw, Woody Miller said. But Kenney lost the case -- officials yesterday were unable to say what his punishment was -- because there were no witnesses to corroborate his account, Woody Miller said.
After the case, police had agreed that if McKay ever stopped Kenney, Kenney could request that another officer come to the scene, Woody Miller said. Bode Miller had also had confrontations with McKay, and had gone to court in 2005 after McKay ticketed him for driving 83 miles per hour in a 40- mile-per-hour zone. Bode Miller told Sports Illustrated at the time that he wanted "to try to get my fine reduced and to antagonize McKay."
Kenney lived alone in a cabin built by his father in the woodlands off Route 116, just over the border in neighboring Easton. He raised chickens and turkeys and liked to ride his all-terrain vehicle, said his uncle, Bill Kenney.
The uncle said Kenney " had a rough life, a tough background, but it seemed like he was in the process of changing these past few weeks." "I don't know what triggered that, but basically he's the type of guy that's an independent-minded fella. He doesn't buy people telling him what to do, maybe a little stubborn," Bill Kenney said yesterday .
"He's basically a good-hearted kid. He'd had some trouble in his past and his upbringing as so many young people do, and he's a Kenney, and it's a family thing. We've been around here for hundreds of years basically . . . he's as native as you can get."
Robert Thibault, town clerk in Easton and a former selectman, said he knows Floyd because Floyd had stopped into the town offices to have his truck registered. "He seems like a nice guy," said Thibault. "I'm glad somebody did something to try to stop Liko. It was a pretty brave thing to do. Unfortunately it was too late."
Steven Heath, owner of Franconia Village Store on Main Street, said Floyd walked into his shop yesterday at about 1:30 p.m., looking for copies of local newspapers.
Floyd was dressed in a T-shirt and shorts and using a cane. "He had a slight limp," Heath said.
Floyd asked the clerk for the newspapers, Heath said, and when she told him they were all sold out, he replied, "I'm the person who shot the kid."
Globe correspondent John Guilfoil contributed tot this report from Concord, N.H. Tracy Jan and Christine McConville of the Globe staff and Globe correspondents Danielle Capalbo and Stephanie Peter also contributed to this report. Michael Levenson can be reached at email@example.com. Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.