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Home » News » Crime

May 17. 2014 10:46PM

Probe continues into actions leading up to Brentwood police officer's death


Associate Attorney General Jane Young speaks during a press conference on Tuesday near the home where Brentwood police Officer Stephen Arkell was fatally shot. (JAMES A. KIMBLE)

BRENTWOOD - Investigators from federal and state agencies Saturday continued to comb through the crime scene where Brentwood police officer Stephen Arkell was shot to death while responding to a domestic dispute.

"They are gathering pieces of evidence to try to make a determination as to the cause of the fire and the cause of the explosion," Jane Young, associate attorney general, said on Friday.

A news briefing is set for Monday at 5 p.m. at the Brentwood Fire Department. Young said further details about what happened last Monday will be provided at that time.

Asked if Nolan shot himself after he fatally shot Arkell, before a fire and explosion destroyed his home, Young said the manner and cause of Nolan's death is still undetermined, pending further test results.

However, while an autopsy determined that Arkell suffered four gunshot wounds in the confrontation, at least one of them fatal, she said, "That same determination was not made for Mr. Nolan."

Asked if the fire and explosion that destroyed the Nolan home after the shooting could have been caused by a gas or propane explosion, Young said nothing has been ruled in or out. She said other homes in the neighborhood do use propane for heating and appliances.

What started the fire is just one of many questions investigators are trying to answer about last week's tragedy. They're interviewing relatives and others to gather as much information as they can about Nolan, Young said, and "to try to have some indication of why he would have committed such a violent and senseless act."

Investigators also want to determine where Nolan was when he fired at Arkell. But Young said the destruction of the home is making that difficult.

"A lot of times when you do these investigations, you have a scene that you can re-create, and you can look at bullet holes and try to determine trajectory," she said. "That's very difficult when you have no scene left."

And while interviewing Nolan's 86-year-old father might help answer some questions, Young said the elder Nolan was outside the home when the fatal confrontation occurred and did not witness what happened.

In addition, she said, "We don't have a lot of information about the inner workings of that house because, as we've indicated, that was not a residence that the police had been called to before."

Investigators from the state police major crime unit and fire marshal's office have been getting assistance from other agencies, including the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the FBI, Young said, adding she even got a call from the Secret Service offering help.

The Manchester Fire Department provided a large tent under which investigators can comb through evidence from the crime scene, and the next-door neighbor let them use her side lawn.

Young praised "the level of cooperation between the community and law enforcement to band together to try to get some answers for this (Brentwood police) department and this family."

"You can't really give them any level of comfort, but you can at least try to answer what questions they have," she said.

swickham@unionleader.com


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