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Officers cleared of wrongdoing in deadly shooting

August 14, 2019
BELMONT On Tuesday, Aug. 6, New Hampshire Attorney General Gordon J. MacDonald held a press briefing at Corner Meetinghouse in Belmont to announce that his team of investigators had found that three police officers were justified in their use of deadly force, which resulted in the June 15 death of 45-year-old Michael J. Sheehan of Northfield.

RSA 7:6 states that the AG is the Chief Law Enforcement Officer for the state and as such is responsible in ensuring that any use of deadly force by a police officer is done within "the conformity of the law."

"Following a full investigation of this deadly force incident by the Attorney General's Office and the New Hampshire State Police Major Crime Unit, the Attorney General finds that the use of deadly force by Belmont Police Sergeant Evan Boulanger, Belmont Police Officer Kristopher Kloetz, and Belmont Police Officer Patrick Riley against Michael J. Sheehan on June 15, 2019, was legally justified," his office released in a written statement to the media.

Assistant Attorney General Jesse O'Neill headed up the state's investigation into the incident and gave a step-by-step look at all that transpired leading up to the shooting on South Road in Belmont.

Sheehan had a four-year relationship with Megan LaDuke, which was tumultuous at times and included incidents of both physical and mental abuse, the most recent of which occurred just three days before he was killed. Angry with her that day, he put th handgun he had intimidated her into buy for him to her mouth and told her if she ever talked back to him again, she would "eat the bullet." She later told police that Sheehan could be the nicest person she knew at times but with just the slightest thing, he could be "your worst nightmare." Due to this, she had instructed him that the gun she purchased for him, a two-toned Taurus Millenium 9mm, was to be kept locked up at her home, but three weeks earlier she had noticed it had gone missing. It was same the gun he later threatened her with on June 12.

On June 15, Sheehan visited his family, went shopping with a friend and seemed in a relatively good mood. His behavior deteriorated rapidly later in the day however when he could not find found a toy he had purchased for his sister Vanessa Day's puppy.

Sheehan went to his sister's house to ask about the puppy toy and while the visit with she and her friend Ed Robinson started off well, it soon escalated into an argument about politics. As a result, he grabbed Day by the throat, hit her and threw her to the ground and threatened her with a gun. It was obvious to Day and Robinson that he had been drinking and was armed. After a tirade of insults and "horrible, horrible things," he finally left with the cryptic warning that "this was not the end of it."

He then headed back to his parents' home in Northfield, screaming on the phone at his mother, Caroline Dion, while en route, still angry about losing the puppy toy. His father Michael became so concerned that he called 911 to apprise police of his son's state of mind and officers were sent to the house. Before they arrived though, Sheehan fired a shot outside the home. He then went inside where he unloaded the pistol, put it to his mother's head as he had done in the past and told her not to make him angry.

Northfield Police, familiar with his diagnosis of PTSD and mental illness that once led to an involuntary admission to a psychiatric facility, arrived at the residence at about 10 p.m., got the parents and dog outside and worked to calm Sheehan down. During that time, it was later reveled that Sheehan ranted about his prior military experience and how he did not need a gun to kill someone.

"Mr. Sheehan also repeatedly told the officers to take out their guns and 'end his nightmare,'" O'Neill said.

He threatened the officers, told them his mother was enabling his sister, and that they both deserved to die.

While police tried to convince him to go to the hospital, he eventually calmed down and not only apologized for his behavior but hugged one of them. When the officers were sent on another call, Sheehan called them on their cell phone and "jokingly" asked if they needed help.

After telling his parents he was working with the police, Sheehan got agitated again and decided to head back to his sister's house. His mother called to encourage Day to go to a hotel where she could be safe but she refused and instead called police in Belmont to tell them of his threats.

Chief Mark Lewandoski, Sgt. Boulanger, and Officer Josh Landry responded to her residence where they learned of Sheehan's actions and threats against her and Boulanger requested a BOLO (Be On the Look Out) for him.

Officer Kloetz heard that alert at 11:11 p.m. and informed Belmont dispatch of what had happened earlier in both Belmont and Northfield, including Sheehan's request for Northfield police to shoot him. "Suicide by Cop" was the term used.

Keeping an eye out for the vehicle he was known to be driving, it was Riley who first spotted the car on Route 140 and Kloetz soon joined him in quiet pursuit.

At the time Sheehan was on the phone telling his mother that he believed police were now following him. She advised him to drive slowly and he pulled over in an attempt to let them drive by. The line remained open.

In the meantime, Boulanger had also been out looking for Sheehan when he heard on the radio that Day had just received a text message saying he was coming back to kill her. Riley by then had notified all that he spotted the vehicle and Lewandoski told him to back off until help arrived for a felony arrest.

It was 11:38 p.m. when Riley and Kloetz pulled up behind Sheehan at 98 South Rd. with and Boulanger just moments away.

Parked 60 feet from the vehicle, the three officers ordered him out of the car but he did not comply right away. Eventually he exited the driver's side but rather than do as told, knelt in front of the door with his back to them. It was then they noticed the gum holster on his hip.

Yelling for him to lie the ground, Sheehan instead got up, both hands holding the pistol beneath his chin in a "ready" position, and began "walking briskly toward them," O'Neill said. When he got within 25 ft., all three officers, who had been repeatedly shouting, "Drop the gun!" felt they were in imminent danger and fired almost simultaneously. He was struck eight times in the trunk of his body.

O'Neill then played the audiotape of Boulanger's radio transmission for "shots fired, suspect down" as Kloetz grabbed his medical bag to try unsuccessfully to help Sheehan.

Bringing the briefing to a close, O'Neill reviewed what each of the officers stated in separate interviews with the Major Crimes Unit and revealed photos of the scene and items, including a loaded rifle and scope, several rounds of ammunition and alcohol, found inside Sheehan's vehicle.

"This dangerous situation was the conclusion of a dangerous situation created earlier in the day," O'Neill said.

Chief Lewandoski said no officer ever wants to have to use deadly force but in this case his men had no choice.

"I think they did an exceptional job," he said, adding that the three were doing well despite their ordeal and were eager to get back to their job of protecting the public.

They were each scheduled to return to duty the next day.

Martin Lord & Osman
Town & Country
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