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Claremont man dies in police shootout

  • A New Hampshire State Police trooper exits a building where a Claremont-area man was killed in a police shooting on Wednesday night in Claremont, N.H. on Thursday, April, 1, 2021. ( Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. valley news photographs Jennifer Hauck

  • A New Hampshire State Police trooper investigates a fatal police shooting in Claremont, N.H. on Thursday, April 1, 2021. Authorities say shots were fired between the State Police SWAT team and a man who had barricaded himself in a Sullivan Street building. ( Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Jennifer Hauck

  • New Hampshire State Police investigate a fatal police shooting in Claremont, N.H., on Thursday, April, 1, 2021. Police responded the night before to a man who had barricaded himself in a building on Sullivan Street. ( Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. valley news — Jennifer Hauck

  • A New Hampshire State Police trooper closes Sullivan Street in Claremont, N.H. on Thursday, April 1, 2021, as authorities investigated a fatal police shooting in a warehouse along the road on Wednesday night. ( Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Jennifer Hauck

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 4/1/2021 6:54:48 PM
Modified: 4/2/2021 8:10:18 AM

CLAREMONT — A 40-year-old Claremont man was shot multiple times and killed Wednesday evening after exchanging gunfire with members of the New Hampshire State Police SWAT Team, according to a news release from the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office.

Friends and acquaintances of Jeffrey Ely, who grew up in Windsor, said Thursday that they had been worried about his mental health following recent posts he had written online.

Six troopers fired on Ely, and an autopsy conducted Thursday found that he died from gunshot wounds to the head, neck, upper and lower extremities, and torso, the release said.

The incident started during the day Wednesday when Claremont police responded to a report of shots fired at 247 Sullivan St., a group of industrial and warehouse buildings near the Sugar River just west of downtown Claremont.

Ely was barricaded inside one of the buildings, prompting Claremont police to close down that stretch of Sullivan Street and call for assistance from the state police SWAT team, according to the attorney general’s release.

After they arrived, “gunfire was exchanged” between Ely and six members of the state police SWAT team, the release said.

The standoff follows weeks of troubling posts Ely had made on his personal Facebook page, mentioning “mind control” and writing that someone was “harassing him” using voices that sounded like people he knows. In a post on March 22, he wrote, “Please help me. Something strange is going on.”

Shortly after 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Ely posted an audio recording to his Facebook page, which included him yelling at someone to stop “harassing him,” and the sound of a gunshot.

The posts raised concern among several of Ely’s friends, some of whom reached out to him on the social media platform, offering help.

One of those was Bobbi Jo Davis, who called herself an acquaintance of Ely’s. She said she’d been watching his posts from the sidelines and had gotten more concerned about his mental health over the last few weeks.

“He’s been in a bad spot and I live 400 miles away, so I reached out to him and to some of his people to no avail,” she said.

Others who knew Ely and expressed support and concern for him on his Facebook page said Thursday that he had gone through a difficult patch recently.

“He is an amazing person who was just dealt a bad hand in this life,” lifelong friend Heidi Sykes said Thursday.

Sykes said Ely had a difficult time after his mother’s death when he was a teenager.

Sykes remembered Ely as someone who loved fixing up his truck and adored his dog, whom he considered his “best friend.”

Sykes said she has fond memories of building race cars and taking road trips with Ely when they were growing up together.

“He was the first to drop everything and help you if you needed it,” she wrote in a message to the Valley News.

Another friend, Brittany Lane, called Ely a “great guy” who seemed to be going through a lot lately. She said Ely rented out space in the Sullivan Street building to work on cars and his truck.

“Everyone is just thinking he was an awful person and that’s totally not the case,” she wrote. “He just really needed help.”

For residents living nearby, the sound of gunfire came as a shock Wednesday evening.

Doris McCrossin, who lives across the street from the buildings, said she has never heard or seen anything like gunfire near the neighborhood.

She said she heard several “pop” sounds shortly after 9 p.m. and immediately locked all of her doors. Worried that the gunfire would come through her front window, McCrossin said she hid in her living room on the other end of her house.

Neighbor John Page, who was also at a home across the street at the time, said he could hear police yelling something about “trying to help” the man before the gunshots.

The Sullivan Street site, which is owned by Sugar River Storage, is home to one industrial and two warehouse buildings, according to Claremont property records.

Signs outside the buildings indicate that several businesses, including an auto parts supplier, are based at the property.

Bruce Tucker, who works in one of the buildings and stopped by the scene Thursday morning, said he believes there are auto detailing, body work, pest control, cable and other businesses located on the lot, along with several storage areas.

An armored police vehicle with an extended battering ram and a Department of Safety van sat outside the property, which was separated from the road by yellow police tape Thursday morning.

Wednesday’s incident follows the killing of Cody LaFont in 2016, who was shot by a Claremont police officer three times when he walked toward him while holding a handgun after calling police to his home. The officer, Ian Kibbe, said LaFont, who suffered from depression, ignored commands to drop the weapon. Kibbe was never charged in the case.

Police have also been involved in at least two other armed standoffs with men in their Claremont homes in the past two years.

In August, Claremont police negotiated with a man for about seven hours after he was accused of pointing a gun at his mother and then barricading himself in his apartment on North Street.

The man, Arnulfo Urista, eventually relented and was taken into custody without any injuries following the standoff. He pleaded not guilty to weapons charges in August.

That incident came a year after a similar standoff in the same neighborhood in August 2019, when Michael Burns was accused of barricading himself in an apartment and firing 100 rounds during a seven-hour standoff with police, including the state police SWAT team. Police did not fire weapons in that incident and no one was injured, according to authorities.

Burns was found not competent to stand trial last spring, though a forensic evaluator said he could be restored to competency within a year, if given the proper treatment.

Sullivan County Attorney Marc Hathaway said Thursday that Burns’ “case continues” and “there are efforts being made to determine his competency.”

In the Ely case this week, Deputy Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Mitchell Weinberg said the manner of death is being characterized as a homicide, which is the killing of one person by another.

The Attorney General’s Office said it will not release further information until formal interviews with the troopers are conducted.

Anna Merriman can be reached at amerriman@vnews.com or 603-727-3216.




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