2-year-old shot in leg in Newport apartment; police say suspect had been drinking

  • Timothy E. Hale (Newport police photograph)

Published: 4/15/2019 9:48:15 AM
Modified: 4/15/2019 9:38:56 PM

NEWPORT — A Newport man charged with firing a gun into the ceiling of his Laurel Street apartment and striking a 2-year-old girl in the unit above pleaded not guilty at his arraignment in Sullivan Superior Court on Monday and was released on personal recognizance bail.

Conditions of release for Timothy E. Hale, 51, include moving to his sister’s residence in Georges Mills, surrendering all firearms and not consuming alcohol.

The girl, Lennox Martoiski, was stable at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon on Monday. She was treated for wounds in her right leg from a round of birdshot Hale allegedly fired from his 12-gauge shotgun about 11:30 on Sunday night after an evening of drinking, according to police.

Hale pleaded not guilty to felony charges of second-degree assault and reckless conduct with a deadly weapon.

Assistant Sullivan County Attorney Justin Hersh requested that Hale be held in jail given the nature of the events. He read from the police affidavit that described the shooting and said Hale represents a danger to himself and the community given that he “appears to be a heavy drinker” and owns guns. Hersh also said Hale was “irritated” by a neighbor who had asked him if he had a permit for the brush burning he did earlier in the day.

But public defender Jay Buckey argued for personal recognizance, noting that Hale had no prior record and has lived in the area all his life.

“We believe this was an accident, a very unfortunate accident, but not a crime,” Buckey said.

Police Chief James Burroughs said on Monday morning that Hale stayed on the scene after the shooting, did not resist arrest and was held overnight without bail at the Sullivan County House of Correction in Unity.

According to the police affidavit, Hale, who is disabled, fired the shotgun while sitting in his bedroom on the ground floor of the apartment building at 147 Laurel St. The document indicates Hale told police he drank a six-pack of beer on Sunday afternoon and evening, and that he appeared intoxicated. Police found a can of beer next to his bed, and seven cans in the trash.

“This is the first call of this nature that we’ve had at this residence,” Burroughs said. “We got no calls and no reference to anything between the family and Mr. Hale.”

When police arrived at the residence, Cynthia Belrose brought her daughter out to the front porch. Sgt. Patrick Zullo asked Belrose where the gun was and then noticed a man in the hallway who entered the downstairs apartment.

Zullo asked the man, who turned out to be Hale, where the gun was. “He pointed and said ‘the gun is right there. I’m sorry,’ ” the affidavit states.

Zullo then attempted to speak to Hale, who was said to look “dejected.” He then told Zullo he thought someone was in his apartment and that is why he fired the gun, according to the affidavit

The girl’s father, John Martoiski, said his daughter was in her own bedroom, and when he and Belrose, who were sleeping in another room, heard a loud noise they checked on the girl and discovered her blanket was covered in blood, the affidavit states.

The affidavit says that Belrose applied a tourniquet above her daughter’s knee to stop the bleeding from a wide gash on her knee.

While describing the shooting itself as “an unusual occurrence,” Burroughs said his department has “had a rather intense year for calls,” including the death from exposure of a 2-year-old girl outside her Maple Street apartment building on a cold night in mid-January.

That same week, a fire gutted a house just up Laurel Street from the site of the shooting.

David Corriveau can be reached at dcorriveau@vnews.com and at 603-727-3304. Patrick O’Grady can be reached at pogclmt@gmail.com.

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