We still don’t know all of the details, but Wednesday evening brought a night of violence to Manchester. Today’s front page tells much of the story, Manchester police, federal agents, and three left dead.
A heartfelt thanks must be given to our Manchester and Nashua Police Departments. They, along with other first responders, including the Manchester Fire Department, the Manchester Transit Authority and New Hampshire State Police, dealt with a tense situation for many grueling hours. Subjects were barricaded, gunfire was exchanged, a large section of the city was evacuated, including an entire hotel.
New Hampshire’s first responders are dedicated and well-trained. The fact that they were able to resolve the incident without harm coming to themselves or any un-involved civilians is a testament to their professionalism.
That the incident happened at all is troubling for the Queen City. It is one in a string of events in very recent memory. Just last September, Central High School students spent hours in lockdown for another “holed up” suspect after a fatal shooting in the city. Earlier this month a woman was shot outside a Manchester nightclub. No matter if they are driven by drugs, gangs, or something else, these incidents of violence have become too common. Manchester is a relatively small city that experiences too many “big city” problems.
Perhaps most disturbing in today’s coverage is that Stephen Marshall, the suspect identified as being killed by police, was subject to two warrants at the time of the event. Assistant Hillsborough County attorney Brendon Thurston pointed to new 2018 state bail regulations as a reason why Marshall was not in custody. As Thurston put it in our story, “The general process with the new bail statute is that most offenders are released.”
As well-intentioned as bail reform may have been, surely it was never intended to put a man on the street to trade bullets with the very police departments that had arrested him so often and so recently. It seems for Mr. Marshall that bail reform may have led him into the revolving door of justice that many warned about when it was being debated at the State House. It is worth restating what we said then, the Legislature can and should revisit the rules.