05/13/2007

Tragic news of fallen N.H. officer all too familiar

By GARRY RAYNO
New Hampshire Union Leader Staff

Manchester, N.H. — The words were too familiar for police officers with fresh memories of Officer Michael Briggs, who was fatally shot Oct. 16 as he responded to a call.

Friday's fatal shooting of Franconia police officer Bruce McKay was once again a reminder to those in law enforcement of the dangers of the job.

Manchester Police Capt. James Kinney said yesterday, "This hits quite hard."

"Our department has just gone through this. We all feel for the (police) department in Franconia and the officer's family. It's a tough time, it's a really tough time," Kinney said.


Area residents stands outside the police station in Franconia, N.H., Friday. A police officer from the area was shot and killed earlier in the day. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
The dangers of the job, he added, "are not something we dwell on, but it's always in the background. It's always a possibility every day."

Merrimack's new police chief, Michael Milligan, had similar thoughts. "It just reminds us how dangerous it is every night. We have to take our jobs very seriously," he said.

"Ninety-nine point nine percent of the time, they're good people, but that one may not be," Milligan said. "(McKay's death) has depressed everyone around, because it's what we do. Our hearts go out to the families."

Rick St. Hilaire, Grafton County attorney, said "The loss of Franconia police officer Cpl. Bruce McKay is deeply felt by us in the Grafton County law enforcement community. Bruce was committed to protecting and serving the public, and he will be fondly remembered as a man of courage, compassion and good humor. We will sorely miss him.

"The tremendous outpouring of public support for Bruce McKay inspires law enforcement across the country to continue its mission to safeguard public safety even in the face of danger and tragedy," he said.

Michael K. Addison, 26, a Manchester resident and Boston native, has been charged with capital murder in Briggs' shooting. Addison is accused of shooting Briggs at point-blank range as Briggs, a decorated officer and father of two young sons, and his bicycle patrol partner were responding to an early-morning domestic disturbance call. Briggs died the next day.

Before Briggs' death, more than nine years had passed since a New Hampshire police officer died in the line of duty.

Epsom police officer Jeremy T. Charron was shot and killed Aug. 24, 1997, as he checked a car at a popular swimming spot in town. He was the third police officer killed in less than a week. That week in August 1997 was one of the bloodiest for law enforcement in the state's history.

State Troopers Leslie G. Lord and Scott E. Phillips were gunned down by Carl Drega in Colebrook in a shooting spree that left five people dead, including Drega, who also gunned down a district court judge and a newspaper editor before he was killed in a shoot out in Vermont.

Friday's Franconia incident brought back memories of that dark day nearly a decade ago.

Yesterday, some of Merrimack's police officers attended the funeral of Tyngsboro, Mass., police Officer John Georges, a 22-year veteran who collapsed while on duty last week and later died.

The two deaths coincide with the beginning of National Law Enforcement Memorial Week. Law enforcement from around the state will travel to Washington, D.C. next week to show its support for fellow officers killed in the line of duty.

The state will hold its 15th annual New Hampshire Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Ceremony Friday beginning at 10 a.m. at the memorial site in front of the Legislative Office Building in Concord.

Union Leader correspondents Lorna Colquhoun and John Donati contributed to this article.

Copyright 2007 Union Leader

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