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Litchfield man arraigned in attempted murder of Manchester police officer
Emergency workers roll the injured officer toward an ambulance after Wednesday night's shooting on the West Side. (JEFFREY HASTINGS)
MANCHESTER - Police Officer Daniel Doherty was seriously injured Wednesday night in what witnesses described as a gunfight.
Doherty was hit five times in the legs and lower torso, Assistant County Attorney Karen Gorham said after the arraignment. Webster, she said, fired 15 shots at the officer.
Doherty remains hospitalized at Catholic Medical Center where he is listed in stable, but serious condition after undergoing surgery.
Doherty left a job as a bank teller in 2008 to join the Manchester Police Department. He has a degree in criminal justice from Curry College in Milton, Mass.
Last month, he, along with Officer Adam Beland, received the department's Honorable Service Award for preventing a Nov. 4, 2011, gas station robbery.
Doherty and Beland were on patrol in the area of the Shell gas station on Eddy Road at 3:20 a.m. on Nov. 4 when they noticed a man dressed in black, with a hood over his head, leave the station and walk to a closed lot next door.
The gas station was not robbed, but the officers decided to follow the man in black and watched as he got into a van hidden out of sight. A second person was in the vehicle, and officers saw multiple hand movements.
Doherty and Beland approached the van and, after obtaining consent to search it, found a loaded 9mm Ruger, along with items indicating a robbery was planned. One of the individuals admitted owning the gun and conspiring to rob the gas station.
On March 31, Doherty was scheduled to play in the 5th annual Battle of the Badges. The fund-raising event for the Children's Hospital at Dartmouth features a hockey game between police and firefighters from across the state at the Verizon Wireless Arena.
Gov. John Lynch Thursday said, "My thoughts and prayers, and those of my wife, Susan, are with Officer Doherty and his entire family at this time. We pray for his quick and full recovery.
"Wednesday evening's incident is a stark reminder of the dangers the men and women of law enforcement face everyday. This officer, like so many across our state, risked his life to keep all of us safe. We owe them a tremendous debt of gratitude.
"I want to thank Chief Mara, and the men and women of the Manchester Police Department for their dedication, their courage and professionalism in what I know is a difficult time for the department."
Wednesday night, police spokesman Lt. Maureen Tessier said in a written statement, “A Manchester police officer responded to an incident reported on the West Side of the city. On arrival, the officer became involved in a confrontation during which he sustained injuries from gunfire.”
At the arraignment Thursday morning, Judge Gregory Michael set bail at the $1 million cash only requested by prosecutors for Webster. Public defender John Newman waived reading of the complaint, but first assistant Hillsborough County attorney Maureen O'Neil said in requesting bail that Webster had fired 15 shots at Doherty.
She also said he has three open charges in Massachusetts: assault and battery, possession of a weapon without a permit, and operating after suspension for DWI.
She said Webster also provided a false statement when purchasing a weapon in 2010.
He has also been a halfway house walkaway in Massachusetts, which O'Neil said is evidence he is a flight risk. A probable cause hearing was scheduled for April 4.
Doherty's family members attended the session, but were sequestered by police after the arraignment, and Tessier said they did not wish to speak with the media.
Wednesday, a 14-year-old witness to the 6:30 p.m. shooting, whose family requested his name not be used, said the officer was involved in a gunfight with two men.
The boy said he was walking with a friend in an alley near Dubuque Street when one of the shooters, whom the youth described as a Hispanic man in his early 20s with long hair, approached them.
“He asked me, ‘Have you ever ran before in your life? It takes the energy out of you,'” the boy said.
After that exchange, “Then a cop came bolting down the alley in a cruiser and he said, ‘Freeze!'” he said.
The other man ran away toward Wayne Street, where he was met by a white man, the boy said.
“It looked like” both men shot at the officer, he said. The officer was hit and one of the men was shot in the arm, the boy said. One of them ran toward Dubuque Street while the other ran toward Putnam Street.
Moses Santana, who lives on Putnam Street, was outside his home when the boy ran toward him shortly after the shooting.
“He screamed there was somebody with a gun and somebody got shot,” Santana said. “He was screaming, ‘Get in your houses! Get in your houses!'”
A photographer at the scene, Jeffrey Hastings, said he could see emergency personnel treating an officer who had suffered serious injuries after being shot at the intersection of Wayne and Rimmon streets.
Doherty was taken to nearby Catholic Medical Center for treatment.
Jeffery A. Strelzin, senior assistant attorney general, said at a 10:30 p.m. news conference that the officer was out of surgery. Strelzin said the officer was in serious but stable condition after suffering multiple gunshot wounds.
Strelzin said many family members were at the officer's side, but he refused to release the officer's name, saying authorities are still trying to notify other family members.
Wednesday night, he would not comment on whether anyone was in custody, but said nobody had been arrested at that time.
“We want to assure the public that there is no danger to the public,” he said.
Asked if anyone else was injured in the incident, Strelzin said only: “He was the only police officer injured.”
Strelzin said the officer was one of several police officers responding to an incident in the area. The shooting occurred at the intersection of Wayne and Rimmon streets.
Shortly after 9 p.m., police in Rockingham County issued a broadcast for a 2000 Hyundai Sonata believed to be involved in the shooting.
The broadcast said two females and a male were in the vehicle, and they are believed to have a weapon in their possession.
“(Police) are securing the scene and putting crime tape up,” Hastings said at 7:15 p.m. Wednesday. “State police are arriving right now.”
About 7:30 p.m., an officer in plainclothes asked residents on nearby Dubuque Street to stay on lawns or sidewalks, as police were bringing search dogs into the area.
Asked if police had made an arrest, the officer said, “Yeah, we have somebody, but we're looking for some other stuff.”
About 8 p.m., numerous uniformed and plainclothes police officers searched an alley near Dubuque Street leading toward a city police cruiser that was surrounded by five other cruisers and crime scene tape.
Tessier said the Attorney General's Office is called in whenever a police-involved shooting takes place. She urged people to pray for the police officer.
Webster was out on federal probation at the time of the shooting and assault and battery charges pending in Massachusetts.
In the past, Webster was arrested at least twice on armed robbery charges. In one of them, on Valentine's Day in 2008, he allegedly pulled the trigger on a gun but a bullet wasn't fired.
According to a published report in the New Hampshire Union Leader, on Valentine's Day in 2008, Webster was arrested in Manchester and charged with armed robbery, a felony.
He was accused of robbing Joshua Tarallo, then 22, at gunpoint of $100 as he was walking to his Pine Street home late at night.
Tarallo told investigators the robber, who he knew as "EZ," told him to get into his 2007 black Mazda but when Tarallo refused, Webster allegedly pulled the trigger on the gun but no shot was fired, according to the newspaper account.
Webster, when being arraigned on the charge, called the allegations absurd.
At his arraignment, a police prosecutor said a Litchfield armed robbery charge also was pending against him in Hillsborough County Superior Court.
(Staff reporters Dale Vincent and Pat Grossmith contributed to this report.)
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