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Portsmouth man wants AR-15s and handguns returned, police chief contends he remains a threat

By KIMBERLEY HAAS
Union Leader Correspondent

March 23. 2018 1:31AM
Portsmouth police refuse to return the AR-15s and pistols seized from a local man during an incident last month citing mental health and safety concerns. (KIMBERLEY HAAS/Union Leader Correspondent)



PORTSMOUTH — A man who had two AR-15 rifles and three pistols seized following a mental health crisis last month plans to file complaints against the Portsmouth Police Department in Rockingham County Superior Court.

Police say he poses a potential threat to the public and unless a judge rules otherwise, they will keep the guns.

Isaac Brake, 44, was involuntarily hospitalized Feb. 23 after his mother called police to report he had weapons and was refusing to leave her Kearsarge Way home. Local officers and the Seacoast Emergency Response Team talked Brake into agreeing to a peaceful surrender after hours of negotiations.

Brake was not charged with a crime following the incident and believes the weapons should be returned as he has no history of violence.

“In my opinion, they have de facto passed a policy where police can take away guns without giving them back,” he said.

Brake believes he’s been tried in the court of public opinion.

At a meeting March 5, Portsmouth City Councilor Doug Roberts commented on it, saying he agreed with Chief Robert Merner’s decision not to return Brake’s weapons.

“I’m happy to see they don’t intend to return the guns to the person who was involved in the incident,” said the councilor, who supports stricter regulation of firearms.

Brake said the incident and the attention it received in the community has affected his career and relationship with his two children. He was excited to see his daughter’s chorus performance at Portsmouth Middle School this week, but at the same time was nervous because his name had been in the local newspaper and he worried some people might be fearful and report his presence to police.

“My rights have been trampled,” he said.

Merner doesn’t see it that way and intends to hold onto the weapons until a judge orders their return.

Brake threatened police officers who showed up on Feb. 23, he said.

“He’s threatened suicide by cop. That means you either shoot a weapon or point a weapon at an officer. In that case, there’s a public safety risk,” Merner said.

Merner said that because Brake was involuntarily hospitalized for his actions, keeping the firearms secured is permissible.

“I’m not looking to abridge anyone’s gun rights in New Hampshire,” Merner said.

Brake denies he ever said anything about “death by cop.”

“It was peaceful. There was a mental health issue. They secured firearms,” he said.

Brake has been in trouble with the law before. He admits pleading no contest to two charges of simple assault and a charge of resisting arrest following a 2012 dispute with his mother where he was Tasered by police.

Brake was given a one-year sentence in the county jail that was deferred except for 55 days he’d already spent behind bars.

In 2011, police responded to his mother’s home after a resident reported Brake was in the basement.

Police had issued warrants for his arrest in Massachusetts alleging a restraining order violation.

Brake said Monday he was not even at his mother’s home during that incident, but news accounts of it affected his reputation in the Portsmouth business community.

“I was involved in the Chamber of Commerce. I had a reputation as an up-and-coming business leader,” he said.


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