Report: Claremont standoff wasn’t the suspect’s first

  • Michael Burns, of Claremont, N.H., left, whispers to his public defender, Jay Buckey, during his arraignment in Sullivan County Court in Newport, N.H., Friday, August 16, 2019. Burns pleaded not guilty to four charges of felony reckless conduct with a deadly weapon a day after he allegedly fired numerous shots from his Claremont, N.H., apartment building. Burns also faces two misdemeanor counts of simple assault, and one misdemeanor count of criminal threatening stemming from an Aug. 12 fight on Sullivan Street. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Det. Sgt. Mike McLaughlin, of the New Hampshire State Police talked with Amanda Bariteau, left, Sarah Aldrich, right, and her son Jayce Aldrich, 11, after identifying what appeared to be bullet holes in the side of their Claremont, N.H., apartment building Friday, August 16, 2019, a day after police engaged in a standoff across the street. Sarah Aldrich said just before 8 a.m. police in camoflauge evacuated her and her three kids over a fence in the back yard to a neighbor's basement. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Alan Bolton, of Claremont, drove to Centennial Street in Claremont, N.H., Friday, August 16, 2019, to watch police conducting their investigation into the scene where authorities say Michael Burns, of Claremont, N.H., engaged in a standoff with police on Thursday, August 16. Bolton lives a short distance from Burns' Centennial Street apartment. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • New Hampshire State Police Trooper Chris Martineau photographs Friday, August 16, 2019, outside the Claremont, N.H., apartment were Michael Burns allegedly fired numerous shots into his Centennial Street neighborhood during a standoff Thursday. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 8/16/2019 1:14:11 PM

NEWPORT — The Claremont man accused of firing hundreds of rounds from his Hanover Street apartment during a daylong standoff with police on Thursday was charged in a similar situation in Maine a decade ago, authorities confirmed — but the charges didn’t stick.

Nevertheless, a prosecutor in Sullivan Superior court on Friday morning argued that both standoffs show Michael E. Burns, 55, presents a “clear and present danger” to the community, while his defense attorney countered he should be allowed out on bail because of his ties to the region, including a steady job.

A judge ordered Burns held without bail on four charges of felony reckless conduct with a deadly weapon following his arraignment. Burns also is facing two misdemeanor counts of simple assault, and one misdemeanor count of criminal threatening stemming from an fight on Sullivan Street a few days before the standoff.

Each of the reckless conduct charges carries a maximum sentence of seven years under New Hampshire law.

Burns pleaded not guilty to all of the charges.

Sullivan County Attorney Marc Hathaway said additional charges against Burns are likely to follow an investigation. Police were on Hanover Street processing the scene on Friday, he said.

“I expect that we’ll get a more detailed understanding today of where those rounds went,” Hathaway said in an interview. “This is very early in the process, and we always try to be cautious in moving forward and not get ahead of our skis, for lack of a better term.”

Burns was arrested on a terrorizing charge, as well as creating a police standoff and indecent conduct, following a six-hour standoff with police in Waterboro, Maine, in May 2008, according to a report at the time from the Waterboro Reporter.

A York County Superior Court clerk confirmed the existence of the case against Burns, but could not provide more details about it this week, including how it was adjudicated. Hathaway on Friday said the Maine case was not prosecuted.

Messages left on Thursday for the York County Sheriff’s Department, which handled the Burns matter in 2008, weren’t returned.

The Reporter article reported that authorities were called to Burns’ residence in Waterboro on May 26, 2008, to respond to “reports of a naked man running around the neighborhood, allegedly threatening to shoot his neighbors and burn their homes.”

A police official told the newspaper that when officers arrived, Burns “ran back into his home and allegedly threatened deputies.” The report did not indicate that a weapon was used in the incident, and Burns “gave himself up without incident,” according to the Reporter

Burns, in a post on his Facebook page in May, alluded to the Waterboro case and asserted the charges against him were dropped about a year later after a responding officer was let go from the department.

Burns, wearing an orange jumpsuit and shackled at the hands and legs, appeared on Friday before Superior Court Judge Larry Smukler, who presided via video conference from Merrimack Superior Courthouse.

Burns directed several comments at Hathaway during the proceedings, calling the prosecutor mean and accusing him of slander.

Police said Burns started firing shots from his apartment in a residential neighborhood as early as 5:20 a.m. Thursday, and after a day of negotiations over a megaphone and a “shelter in place” order that kept nearby residents in their homes, he was taken into custody by 2:30 p.m.

Burns was wearing no clothing at the time of his arrest, Hathaway said.

Officers later found an “SKS-style rifle, shell casings that matched that type of weapon (and) a revolver” in Burns’ apartment, according to court documents.

Hathaway said Burns’ criminal record includes a past conviction of aggravated operating while under the influence in Massachusetts, meaning he was prohibited by federal law from owning a firearm.

The shooting incident came three days after Claremont police responded to a fight they say involved Burns.

Police say Burns rode his bicycle up to a car parked on Sullivan Street on Monday, came to the window and said, “I’m going to kill you” before punching the driver, identified as Timothy Melendy, several times.

The assault stopped only when Melendy put his vehicle in drive and Burns fell off, according to court documents. Police say Burns refused to answer questions about the incident when officers questioned him later that day.

Claremont District Court Judge John Yazinski signed an arrest warrant for Burns on Tuesday.

The rounds Burns fired on Thursday hit nearby homes and residences and were directed at SWAT officers and an armed vehicle attempting to shoot tear gas into the apartment, Hathaway said.

Meanwhile, defense attorney Jay Buckey argued that Burns should be allowed out on personal recognizance because he holds a steady job at an area manufacturer and has ties to the region.

While Burns’ release was denied, the judge accepted Buckey’s request to hold a competency hearing to determine whether Burns is fit to stand trial.

Buckey declined to comment after Friday’s arraignment.

Tim Camerato can be reached at tcamerato@vnews.com or  603-727-3223.




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