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Maine fugitive dies in shootout with NH police after crash ends pursuit in Rochester

By PAUL FEELY
New Hampshire Union Leader

August 21. 2018 3:26PM
Police investigate a fatal officer-involved shooting at Route 125 and Oak Street in Rochester on Monday, Aug. 20, 2018. (JEFFREY HASTINGS)



DOUGLAS HEATH

ROCHESTER — The Attorney General’s office says a 38-year-old man was killed in an officer-involved shooting in Rochester on Monday afternoon after he opened fire on police.

The shooting followed a 20-minute vehicular pursuit that ended with a crash at the intersection of Oak Street and Route 125, according to Attorney General Gordon MacDonald.

He said last Wednesday, Rochester police issued an officer safety briefing form indicating there was "credible information" that Douglas Heath, 38, was in Rochester, and "may be in possession of three firearms" and that he "has no intention of going to jail."

The briefing form indicated that Heath had several warrants out for his arrest, including one for trafficking narcotics and one for fleeing from Maine State Police.

MacDonald said just after 3 p.m. Monday, police spotted Heath’s car. A pursuit involving multiple police vehicles was launched; around 3:15 p.m., Heath crashed his SUV at the intersection of Oak Street and Route 125 (Gonic Road).

According to MacDonald, two Rochester police officers and two New Hampshire state troopers were on the scene. MacDonald said Heath exited his vehicle from the passenger side and an exchange of gunfire took place.

“Mr. Heath was struck by gunfire and died at the scene,” said MacDonald. “A gun was found near his body.”

MacDonald said at this time, he does not know which officers fired their weapons at Heath. No officers or private citizens were physically injured during the incident, MacDonald said.

He said Rochester police cruisers are equipped with video cameras and microphones that may have captured portions of the incident.

“At least one private citizen did capture some portions of the incident by video,” said MacDonald.

A video recorded around 3:15 p.m. and posted on social media by Austin McKenzie of Rochester shows what appears to be a man rolling out of a vehicle after crashing into a building on Route 125.

The man points what appears to be a weapon at something off-camera; that is followed by what sounds like multiple gunshots. The man then lies motionless on the ground.

“I was at a stoplight at the intersection and this car just sped past me going about 50 to 60 mph,” said McKenzie, who posted the video on Instagram and Facebook. “It was a big SUV and it crashed, and I just started filming.”

Watching the footage, it is unclear how many shots were fired, and who was shooting.

“He was firing a weapon at police, and they returned fire,” said McKenzie. “He was putting their lives at risk and anyone around there, and they did what they had to do.”

MacDonald said each officer involved is being placed on administrative leave.

“Pursuant to protocols, the names of the officers are being withheld pending their interviews, which are expected to take place later this week,” said MacDonald.

Anyone who witnessed the incident is asked to contact Sgt. Justin Rowe of the New Hampshire Police Major Crime Unit at 271-3636.

pfeely@unionleader.com


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