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Police standoff ends with an apparent suicide

A member of the State Police SWAT team walks through T-n-T Mobile Home Park during a six hour standoff while police waited for a search warrant for the residence after hearing a gunshot from inside the home of a mentally ill veteran. Jonathan Benton. (click for larger version)
August 18, 2010
COLUMBIA — After a six hour standoff in Columbia on Monday, a resident of the T & T Mobile Home Park was found dead in his trailer Monday night by NH Police SWAT hours after a gunshot was heard. Police said they believe the man committed suicide, but an exact cause of death will be determined by autopsy.

The name of the 59 year old man was not released by authorities pending notification of his family, but neighbors identified him as Peter Lanoue, a military veteran with a history of mental health issues.

Police executed a search warrant at the residence at around 8 p.m., and found the man dead inside. State Police were first called to the mobile home residence off Route 3 after a single gunshot was heard by neighbor Alison Hern at 10:30 a.m. and reported to authorities by her husband. Police received the report shortly after 1 p.m., according to a press release issued by State Police.

The responding trooper engaged in a dialogue with Mr. Lanoue that quickly degraded, said State Police Lt. Todd Landry. The man then retreated inside his residence and the trooper reported that he heard the sound of a firearm being discharged around 2:30 p.m. "For the safety of the residents of the trailer park and our safety we set up a perimeter," said Lt. Landry

Law enforcement sat tight until the SWAT team arrived and no further contact was achieved despite constant attempts through telephone and loudspeaker.

The stand-off had many local residents on edge from Twin Mountain to Colebrook as they reported seeing dozens of police cars speeding up Route 3 with lights and sirens for hours on Monday afternoon. The incident occurred within days of the 13th anniversary of the 1997 rampage of lone shooter Carl Drega in Colebrook, where four people were killed and more wounded before police were able to subdue the gunman with a lethal shot.

Mrs. Hern was home when the situation had escalated and received an armed escort from police out the back door and through the woods with her sister and three nephews in tow. Mrs. Hern's husband stayed behind to care for her 85 year-old grandfather who wasn't fit to make the journey. According to Mrs. Hern her neighbor was a Vietnam veteran prone to having "episodes" and on one occasion shot her cat about three years ago.

There was a full bodied response that flew into the park of 22 SWAT members in camouflage and armed with assault rifles along with six additional State Troopers, Stratford Police Department, US Border Patrol, Colebrook Police Department, Pittsburg Police Department, New Hampshire Fish & Game Department and the 45th Parallel Ambulance.

The man's other neighbor Kim Carter was pulled through her trailer window to safety since her entrance was within sight of his trailer. Living adjacent to the barricaded man's trailer for three years, Mrs. Carter recounted her neighbor as "a nice guy who would help anybody" that periodically screamed and shouted to himself. "He just had his days," she said.

Dusk settled as an armored SWAT vehicle drove around the trailer shining spotlights at it at 7:26 p.m. and it wasn't long by 8:18 p.m. that four distinct bangs were heard. "Those were what are called nonlethal rounds that are low impact and are used to break glass to get a visualization of the inside," said Landry.

At 8:30 p.m. the State Police SWAT team entered the residence to execute a search warrant and determined that the man appeared to have died from self inflicted injuries. It was 15 minutes later that Lt. Landry walked back to the train of residents of the park waiting patiently in the darkness at the side of the road that they could return to their homes.

A medical examiner was later called to the scene and the exact cause of death had yet to be determined.

Martin Lord Osman
Varney Smith
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