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No gun found, but bail increased for man at center of Keene police standoff

Union Leader Correspondent

April 24. 2018 11:58PM
Justin Cole, accused of being involved in a standoff with police on Monday, appeared in Superior Court in Keene Tuesday afternoon. (Meghan Pierce/Union Leader Correspondent)

KEENE — A man arrested after a standoff with police Monday was arraigned on four felony charges in Superior Court Tuesday afternoon.

Justin Cole, 25, of Keene is accused of brandishing a firearm at two witnesses and then firing it in their direction.

The standoff ended peacefully around noon Monday after police used pepper spray to force Cole from the home. Cole was arrested and held overnight in lieu of $15,000 cash bail. He was arraigned in the Cheshire County Superior Court in Keene Tuesday afternoon on three felony charges of reckless conduct with a deadly weapon and one felony count of being a convicted felon in possession of a deadly weapon.

Cheshire County Assistant Attorney Kathleen O’Reilly said in court Tuesday afternoon that bail should be raised to $25,000 cash only bail, but admitted no gun was found in the home or in Cole’s possession after the standoff.

“They had to spray substances in the house and then (Cole) surrendered,” O’Reilly said.

O’Reilly said the standoff with police began around 2:30 a.m. at 10 Park Ave. and ended around noon Monday.

“The Keene police did attempt to do a search of that residence, but because of the smell of the odor they didn’t get through the entire residence from the substance that was sprayed into the building. … However, the affidavits from the alleged victims in this case established a basis for the charges and that the defendant’s prior record, especially the felony criminal threatening, justifies the state’s request for $25,000 cash bail.”

Public defender Ben Schiffelbein said Cole could not post more than $500 cash bail.

“Anything else will result in his detention,” Schiffelbein said.

He added that it is not clear at this time what happened, but calling the incident a standoff is inaccurate.

“I think it is better not to describe this as a standoff,” he said. “What we have is police surrounding a house and making a few attempts to contact Mr. Cole. … There is not evidence that Mr. Cole was in communication with the police during that time, that he was aware they were out there and refusing to come out.”

Schiffelbein added that though the two alleged victims reported to police that Cole pointed a gun at them and then fired it in their direction, the man who rented the home and was in the building during the alleged incident told media outlets he did not hear any gun shots.

“The fact that police have not found a gun shows there isn’t one,” Schiffelbein said. “There is no evidence anywhere at all that a gun was fired.”

Schiffelbein requested a probable cause hearing to hash out the contradictory findings, but Judge Mark Howard said the evidence of the case shows Cole is a danger to the public.

“It’s not particularly credible to me that Mr. Cole was unaware that the police were outside for what seems to be about 9 to 10 hours,” Howard said.

Howard said he will adopt the state’s request to raise bail to $25,000 cash only and that Cole should have no contact with the two alleged victims.

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