Gunman Kills Four, Dies in Shootout (Reuter)
Tuesday August 19 11:24 PM EDT
Gunman Kills Four, Dies in Shootout
CONCORD, N.H. (Reuter) - A gunman who killed four people and wounded three during a shooting spree in two states died in a shootout with police Tuesday, police said.
The man, identified as Carl Draga, 67, was killed in a gunfight at a lumberyard in North Stratford, New Hampshire, after leading police from northern New Hampshire and Vermont on a chase over back roads through logging country south of the Canadian border.
New Hampshire state police said the shooting spree began Tuesday afternoon after Draga set fire to his home in Columbia, New Hampshire, a hamlet some five miles south of Colebrook, New Hampshire.
Draga tried to rob a grocery store in Colebrook, about 20 miles south of the Canadian border. When two state troopers, Leslie Lord and Scott Phillips, interrupted the robbery, Draga fatally shot them and stole their patrol car, police said.
He then drove to the offices of the local newspaper, the News and Sentinel, where he found Vicki Bunnell, a lawyer and part-time judge who also served as a selectman for Columbia.
Draga chased Bunnell through the newsroom and cornered her in the parking lot, where he killed her with one shot in the back, according to News and Sentinel reporter Ken Stansky. When editor Dennis Jois tried to intervene by tackling Draga, he was fatally shot too, Stansky said.
"(Draga) had a beef about taxes and had threatened (Bunnell's) life at that time and repeated times since then"; Stansky said. "She's been very fearful of him for years."
The state motto of New Hampshire is "Live Free or Die." The state is well known for its lack of an income tax, but property taxes are considered high by some residents.
Draga returned to the state police car and headed for the Vermont border, just minutes away. But before crossing the sliver of the Connecticut River that divides the two states, he shot and wounded a New Hampshire Fish and Game warden who tried to stop him.
After reaching Vermont along dirt logging roads, he ditched the patrol car and headed into thick forests, chased by police from two states using helicopters and foot patrols.
Draga doubled back and headed south and east to North Stratford, New Hampshire. Along the way, he wounded two Vermont state police officers. Cornered in a lumberyard, Draga died during a shootout with police.
People in the hamlet of Colebrook, which has a population of about 1,000, were stunned by the shootings.
"Townspeople are devastated by the shootings. One of (the victims) was the editor of the local newspaper, and another was a young lady attorney we all thought the world of. I'm just too upset to talk more"; Audrey Noyce, a longtime Colebrook resident, said.
Maj. David McCarthey, a New Hampshire state police spokesman, told reporters the killing of the two state troopers was "devastating."
"It was like losing one of your family members", he said.