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Trooper Leslie George Lord | New Hampshire State Police, New Hampshire New Hampshire State Police, New Hampshire

Trooper

Leslie George Lord

New Hampshire State Police, New Hampshire

End of Watch: Tuesday, August 19, 1997

Bio & Incident Details

Age: 45

Tour: 22 years

Badge # Not available

Cause: Gunfire

Weapon: Rifle; Automatic

Offender: Shot and killed

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Troopers Leslie Lord and Scott Phillips were shot and killed after Trooper Phillips had stopped a vehicle.

The suspect immediately exited his vehicle and opened fire on Trooper Phillips with an automatic rifle, wounding him in the hand. Trooper Phillips was able to return fire and emptied his entire magazine but did not wound the suspect, who was wearing a bullet proof vest.

Trooper Lord pulled up to the scene without knowing that shots had been fired and was shot before he exited his patrol car. The suspect then returned and shot Trooper Phillips four more times, execution style, killing him. He then stole Trooper Phillips' patrol car and drove to the office of a local newspaper where he shot and killed a part-time judge, with whom he had a long standing grudge, and a newspaper editor who had tried to intervene.

The suspect then drove into Vermont where he shot and wounded a New Hampshire Fish and Game officer who attempted to stop him. The officer's life was saved when a bullet struck his badge and ricocheted off. The suspect then stopped the patrol car and setup an ambush. Two Vermont state troopers located the patrol car and approached it with a canine unit. The canine alerted the troopers to the suspect who was in an ambush position on a nearby hill, giving the officers an opportunity to take cover as the suspect opened fire on them from the hill. Two New Hampshire state troopers and a United State Border Patrol agent were all shot and wounded in the final shootout with the suspect at that location.

Upon searching the suspect's property, officials found massive caches of booby trapped bomb materials and weapons hidden in underground tunnels.

Trooper Lord was the chief of police in Pittsburg, New Hampshire, from 1975 to 1987. In 1987, he joined the Bureau of Highway Enforcement, and became a trooper in 1996 when that agency merged with the New Hampshire State Police. He had also been the fire chief of his local volunteer fire department.

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Related Line of Duty Deaths

Trooper Scott Edward Phillips
New Hampshire State Police, New Hampshire
End of Watch: Tuesday, August 19, 1997
Cause: Gunfire

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Most Recent Reflection

RIP Trooper

Printed today in the Valley News

N.H. Town Recalls Deadly Shooting
By Kathy Mccormack
Associated Press
Sunday, August 13, 2017

Twenty years ago, an angry loner with a gun murdered four people, two of them state troopers, in the New Hampshire town of Colebrook, wounded four other officers and was killed in a shootout with police in Vermont.

Today, people still hesitate to mention Carl Drega’s name, but they strive to remember the four lost on Aug. 19, 1997.

“One thing we try to avoid is talking about Carl Drega,” said Lt. Gary Prince, commander of Troop F in Twin Mountain, where the two fallen troopers were based. “What happens is that name is the only name that people know. ... We try to make it about the victims and their families, as opposed to the perpetrator of it.”

Troop F is organizing a 55-mile relay run Friday in New Hampshire from the supermarket where troopers Les Lord and Scott Phillips were shot, along Route 3 to the Twin Mountain barracks. Runners will take turns through the night to “bring memories of their fallen brothers from the north country back to their barracks.” It will culminate with an annual flag-raising ceremony that has come to honor all fallen officers.

“Nobody was working here at the time when they were killed, but yet here we are still, keeping their memory alive, so that’s important,” Prince said.

Also being remembered are Vickie Bunnell, an attorney and part-time judge killed outside her office at the Colebrook News & Sentinel, and editor Dennis Joos, who tried to wrestle away Drega’s assault rifle. A monument to the four with their images is near the paper.

For a small group who knew the four well, though, the memories of the shooting are still raw.

“It’s a stumbling block for me, in a way,” said John Harrigan, of Colebrook, who was publisher of the News & Sentinel. “I replay the whole thing every now and then in my mind and just wonder why I was not one of the dead. I was supposed to stay in my office in the afternoon and go fishing with Vickie’s dad.”

Drega, 62, a carpenter in nearby Columbia, had a long history of conflict with town officials over property issues. Some believed he blamed his wife’s 1972 death from cancer on stress from the disputes. The town took him to court over a zoning violation because he refused to finish a tar paper-covered house.

One night in 1991, Drega wouldn’t leave town hall as he rummaged through property files. Bunnell, then a town selectwoman, called state police, who handcuffed and removed him. On another occasion, Bunnell and a tax assessor went to Drega’s house, where Drega fired shots to scare them off.

That Aug. 19, Phillips wanted to talk to Drega about his rusted-out pickup. He saw it parked at the supermarket and pulled in, radioing Lord that he was there. As Phillips got out of his cruiser, Drega raised an assault rifle and started shooting. Phillips ran for cover. Lord, who didn’t know what had happened, pulled into the parking lot. Drega opened fire. He went back to Phillips and shot him several more times before driving away in Phillips’ cruiser.

Shortly afterward, Drega shot Bunnell and Joos. Drega then drove to his home in Columbia and set it on fire. He headed into Vermont with police following, wounded four officers and was killed in gunfire in the woods.

John Pfeifer, a U.S. Border Patrol agent who was coming to the aid of a wounded trooper, was struck in the shoulder by a bullet. It pierced his lung before exiting out his back.

“I’m waiting for help because where my position is now, no one can come up to get me because they’re going to expose themselves to this guy shooting at them,” Pfeifer recalled. I don’t know the timeline. It seemed like forever. ... My whole left side was starting to go numb. And I just wanted to stay conscious so that I could defend myself if he came down over the bank.”

Police later found thousands of rounds of armor-piercing ammunition, dozens of pipe-bomb casings and motion sensors at Drega’s home.

“He had been probably conspiring to do something at a higher level, and he just so happened to be pulled over that day, and went sideways,” said Pfeifer, who now commands the Border Patrol sector running 295 miles from Ogdensburg, N.Y., to the New Hampshire-Maine line. “But what his ultimate plans were, I’m not sure if anybody ever knew or knows what they were.”

In addition to the monument, a mountain has been named for Bunnell. Portions of Route 3 in northern New Hampshire have been named after Lord and Phillips. A library in Colebrook was named for Joos.

Their loss still lingers.

“This is still a very horrible time,” said Scott Stepanian, the school resource officer in Colebrook who worked as a trooper alongside with Lord and Phillips. “All four people were just the salt of the earth.”

Police Officer - Retired
New York City Police Department
August 13, 2017

 

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