Rochester, NH – Police fatally shot a wanted man in Rochester who engaged them in a gunfight on Monday (video below).
New Hampshire Attorney General Gordon MacDonald released a statement at a press conference on Monday afternoon that explained Rochester police had been issued a warning about 38-year-old Douglas Heath on Aug. 15.
MacDonald said officers were told there was “credible information” that Heath was staying in the Rochester area, and that he might be in possession of three firearms.
The briefing form given to officers said that Heath was wanted for trafficking narcotics and for fleeing from the Maine State Police. It noted that “he has no intention of going to jail,” the attorney general said.
Rochester police officers spotted Heath’s car at about 3 p.m. on Aug. 20 and tried to pull him over, but he fled and led police on a chase that lasted about 15 minutes before he crashed the SUV he was driving at the intersection of Route 125 and Oak Street.
After the wreck, Heath climbed out of his vehicle on the passenger side and began shooting at officers, MacDonald said.
Officers returned fire, and Heath dropped to the ground and continued firing at police.
A shaky video filmed by a witness showed Heath on his back on the ground beside his SUV.
In the video, he raises his left hand and fires a gun in the officers’ direction.
Officers returned fire and Heath rolled over and then stopped moving.
The attorney general said that Heath died at the scene, and that investigators found a gun near his body.
“No officers or private citizens were physically injured in this incident,” MacDonald said in his statement. “The troopers and officers were taken to the hospital where they were evaluated and released.”
There were two Rochester police officers and two New Hampshire State Police troopers on the scene of the shooting, but officials said it’s too early to know who fired their weapons and hit Heath.
A witness told WMUR that she and her husband thought they’d just witnessed a car crash until they saw a man get out of the SUV with a gun.
Deborah Haynes-Whitehead said police told Heath to drop the weapon, but he didn't. Then police shot him, she said.
“I was thinking about my grandson and whether I’d see him again,” Haynes-Whitehead said. “And we slouched down in the truck and just sat and waited for someone to tell us to do something. You know, we were terrified to move the vehicle.”
Watch video filmed by a witness below: