Murder in a Small Town

Sunset in a Small Town: The View From My Window

When I dropped my daughter off at school yesterday morning, police and campus security were cordoning off huge sections of Exeter in anticipation of a Town Hall visit by the Vice-President.   It was a rote and reasonable plan for the dangers inherent in any such high-profile political appearance.

But one can only truly plan for the imaginable.

Looking out the window last night I saw not the small town I’ve come to know, for better and worse, but sights I’d never seen in twenty-five years as a prosecutor.  Nor had I seen anything remotely like this when my husband and I lived for years in a Boston neighborhood possessing an (undeservedly) bad reputation for crime.

The sounds came first: screaming sirens, a police car careening around the corner while others cars and ambulances rushed in the other direction.  The dogs began to yelp and bay.

I assumed the imaginable: a terrible accident, perhaps a lightning strike.   But the emergency vehicles kept coming, including, eventually, an armored truck with what appeared to be military personnel perched on the back.  The lone local elementary school’s parking lot, adjoining a much-used colorful playground, was transformed into something  resembling a military command center.

By nightfall I saw only blue flashing lights, punctuated with red; a bright flashing yellow light on a pole planted just across from my window; and a sea of more diffuse white light from the outdoor floodlights neighbors–those already in their homes before police set up the barricaded zone–cast on their yards.  A helicopter could be heard overhead.

By this time, an enormous section of two intersecting roads had been cordoned off and rumors circulated that three or four police officers had been shot trying to execute a search warrant–and that the cruiser racing away from the scene at a speed so frantic I could hear a pitch of panic had been taking the injured police chief to the hospital.

I hoped the town grapevine was exaggerating, but feared residents’ uncanny accuracy in assembling essential pieces before adding layers of embellishment.

Late last night news outlets confirmed the basic information, and it was even worse than what we had heard:  five officers had been shot, and the local police chief–one week short of retirement–had been killed.

No death is like another.  I can only begin to contemplate his wife’s loss and his family’s and friends’ and colleagues’ and community’s suffering.

“It’s not supposed to happen here,” stunned neighbors told reporters who surrounded the blockade’s perimeter.

It’s not supposed to happen anywhere.

(c) 2012 Stephanie M. Glennon

Author: Stephanie

In her spare time, Stephanie works full-time, and then some, as an attorney. She has published articles and delivered talks in arcane fields like forensic evidentiary issues, jury instructions, and expert scientific witness preparation. She attended law school near the the banks of the Charles River and loves that dirty water; she will always think of Boston as her home. You are welcome to take a look at her Facebook author page, or follow @SMartinGlennon on Twitter and @schnitzelpond on Instagram. Bonus points for anyone who understands the Instagram handle. All content on this blog, unless otherwise attributed, is (c) 2012-2023 by Stephanie M. Glennon and should not be reproduced (in any form other than re-blogging in accordance with the wee Wordpress buttons at the bottom of each post) without the express permission of the domain holder.

9 thoughts on “Murder in a Small Town”

  1. That is so sad. My heart goes out to the family. In 25 years as a police officer, detective and captain of county detectives in a densely-populated urban/suburban northern NJ county, my father never had to draw his gun. (He did so much later, as the civilian police director of a large town in another county, but that’s another story). Such is the experience of most suburban officers, who spend much of their time truly keeping the peace. The repercussions of this incident go beyond the chief, and his family and department to the community at large; I wish all of them healing in the wake of this tragedy and, hopefully, justice.

  2. It must have been surreal to have such activity in your serene neck of the woods,,,,,,Keep on keepin’ on – – you’re thought of more than you may realize!

    1. Thanks, Mike. And thank you for reading, and for thinking of me: I have saved the date, and am looking forward to seeing the gang and meeting Susan.

  3. This is beautifully written but it has such sad loss for the town and the police — such a loss to the communites involved.

  4. So shocking and so tragic. I am sure you are just stunned. Such a tragedy for such a nice, small town.

  5. This is so terribly tragic and sad. As this was occurring around and between us (literally), I thought of you in support and with love. You write so eloquently. Thank you for opening your heart to us through these posts. I read them all and they have made a difference in my life.

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