PORTSMOUTH — A former Portsmouth police commissioner and her partner have been indicted on assault and criminal mischief charges in connection to the shooting of a teenager at their Summer Street home in August.
A Rockingham County Superior Court grand jury indicted former Portsmouth Police Commissioner Brenna Cavanaugh last week on charges of attempted first-degree assault and criminal mischief, both connected to an Aug. 18 shooting at her home at 140 Summer Street.
The indictments allege Cavanaugh was acting in concert with her partner, Mark Gray, shares the residence with her. Gray was also indicted last week on five charges related to the same shooting incident, including two counts of reckless conduct and one count each of attempted first-degree assault, criminal threatening, and criminal mischief.
According to Portsmouth police, Gray, 44, fired the shots at a teen who entered the home at 3:30 a.m. on Aug. 18, mistakenly believing a party was being held there. According to police, the shots were fired in the street while the teen was fleeing the area.
Cavanaugh, 43, said in a statement issued shortly after the incident that the teen was driving toward her and Gray when the shots were fired.
One of the indictments handed up against Cavanaugh alleges she acted “in concert with or aided by” her partner Gray, causing six bullets to be fired in the direction of a person identified only by their initials and having a birth date in January 2002, causing more than $1,500 in damage. The second indictment alleges Cavanaugh committed the crime of criminal mischief by acting with Gray to cause the bullets to be fired at a vehicle and caused damage in excess of $1,500 to a vehicle.
The indictments against Gray claim he placed or may have placed someone in danger of serious bodily injury by discharging six bullets from a pistol at an occupied vehicle. A second indictment alleges he attempted first-degree assault by firing six bullets in the person’s direction.
Another two reckless conduct indictments allege Gray fired bullets at a moving vehicle as it traveled along Summer Street, while the fifth indictment alleges criminal threatening, claiming Gray placed the unnamed person in fear of bodily injury by aiming and firing his firearm at the person.
According to police, Gray and Cavanaugh were awoken at 3:30 a.m. Aug. 18 by a male juvenile who walked into their unlocked home. Police said the youth had been communicating via a social networking site with a juvenile female who lives in the home.
According to police, she “invited him to a gathering” and advised him the door was unlocked.
“Due to a miscommunication, the male juvenile was unaware that the gathering was at a location other than the female’s residence,” police said in a news release issued at the time. Police said when he entered the house, the residents woke up and the youth fled.
As he entered his vehicle, which was parked on Summer Street, Gray allegedly exited the home and fired several rounds at him, police said.
The day of the incident, Cavanaugh issued a statement to the media in which she challenged the police version of events.
“I urge media outlets to request the ballistic report, which will prove otherwise,” Cavanaugh wrote. “The vehicle was fired upon as it accelerated towards us (the victims) at a high rate of speed, (after it had already accelerated at a high speed in reverse, crashing into a telephone pole). In a last resort action of self defense, in an effort to disable the vehicle, and neutralize an immediate threat to our lives, the vehicle was fired upon as it approached and passed us. Not as ‘it fled.’”
Cavanaugh finished four years of serving on the Portsmouth police panel in December 2017.
Police said “a trajectory analysis of the rounds fired” led them to arrest Gray.