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Laconia man wounded in Mass. shootout

New Hampshire Sunday News

March 31. 2012 9:01PM


A Laconia man with a record of gun violence here was wounded in an apparent shootout in Lawrence, Mass., Friday evening.

According to Lawrence Police Chief John Romero, Michael Smith, 31, of Laconia, was one of two men shot when gunfire erupted in a location near downtown. The chief said the incident may have been drug-related.

And Lawrence police are asking for the public's help to find a white Mercedes SUV with a shattered window and New Hampshire plates in connection with the shooting.

Chief Romero said officers responded to a report of a man shot about 7:25 p.m. Friday and found a wounded man, identified as Julio Rivera, 30, of Lawrence. 'In the vicinity of this individual were a number of shell casings as well as a handgun,' he said.

A witness told police another man had fled the scene and pointed out the direction. A few blocks away, police found a man, later identified as Smith, trying to get into a gray Honda. They stopped the vehicle and discovered Smith was also suffering from a gunshot wound that was not life-threatening, Romero said.

Romero said police do not know the motive for the shooting. 'However, we believe this may be drug-related and we believe both individuals were on opposite sides of the argument, so to speak,' he said.

Rivera was more seriously injured and was flown by helicopter to Beth Israel Hospital in Boston. Smith was taken to Lawrence General Hospital for treatment, Romero said.

The chief said police are looking for a second gun involved in the shooting and are testing the gun found at the scene. And he said they're trying to find the white Mercedes that fled the scene, leaving shattered glass behind on the street.

Smith has a lengthy criminal record in New Hampshire, according to police here.

Cpl. Merek Weisensee of the Tilton Police Department said Smith was arrested in his town in August 2007 after he allegedly fired a gun at another vehicle during a road rage incident on Route 3. Smith was charged with two felony counts of reckless conduct and with being a felon in possession of a dangerous weapon.

Weisensee said Smith's record dates back to 1998, when he was picked up for unlawful possession of alcohol and speeding at the age of 18.

He was convicted of criminal threatening and simple assault in two separate incidents in 2000, Tilton police records show.

Weisensee wasn't surprised to learn what happened in Lawrence Friday. 'If you were to ask me to give you my top five guys that I've ever run into since I've been a police officer of dangerous felons, he would be on my list,' he said.

Sgt. Dennis Ashley of the Laconia police said Lawrence police called Friday night and asked for help in trying to locate the Mercedes and known associates of Smith. So far, police haven't had any luck finding either the vehicle or those individuals, he said.

Chief Romero asked that anyone with information about the incident or the Mercedes call Lawrence police at 978-794-5900, ext. 625.

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