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Home | Crime

SWAT team had relieved city force

Mark Hayward
New Hampshire Union Leader

May 09. 2011 10:31PM

MANCHESTER - The New Hampshire State Police SWAT team involved in the fatal shooting of a West Side man was on duty in order to relieve their Manchester counterparts, a homicide prosecutor said Monday.

The early Saturday morning shooting by a State Police trooper ended the 35-hour standoff. James D. Breton, 50, was shot and killed after he became angry at officers outside the apartment, the New Hampshire Attorney General's Office has said.

Manchester police SWAT had spent the previous days in the standoff, and State Police SWAT had provided relief, said Jeffery Strelzin, a senior assistant attorney general overseeing the investigation into the shooting.

'You can't be on all the time without a break,' Strelzin said.

Strelzin said he won't release the name of the trooper who fired the fatal shot until a preliminary investigation is issued, which is expected seven to 10 days after the shooting.

Stelzin said a law enforcement agency usually gives paid time off to an officer involved in a fatal shooting, but he did not know the particulars in the Breton case.

Meanwhile, an expected report of any autopsy on Breton's body did not surface Monday evening. Strelzin said it's possible the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner did not conduct an autopsy Monday. He plans to release findings once they are available, he said.

Breton barricaded himself into his 298 Main St. apartment Thursday evening, after two police arrived to make sure his 7-year-old daughter was OK.

He was agitated with the officers and showed a handgun, which prompted police to call in the SWAT team. Nearby residents were evacuated and streets were closed as police tried to talk Breton out.

Neighbors have described Breton as helpful and nice, but also noted he installed video and audio surveillance around his apartment and did not like police.

The standoff involved telephone conservations and SWAT vehicles, bullhorns and rifle-toting police.

On Friday, Police Chief David Mara said there was no reason to rush the matter, and his only objective was to end the matter safely. But Breton had said he was not going to be removed alive.

Breton's daughter, 7-year-old Jamie Breton, was not physically harmed in the standoff or shooting.

A lawyer for her mother, Joe Kelly Levasseur, has said a teenage girl had recently reported sexual abuse at the hands of Breton, which prompted police to visit the apartment Thursday.

Levasseur has also said Breton was controlling and abusive to his client, Laura Gardner. Gardner lived with Breton for her daughter's sake, Levasseur has said.

According to previous New Hampshire Union Leader articles, Breton was arrested in April 2005 on assault charges involving an assault on Gardner.

At the time, prosecutors said the attack appeared to be unprovoked. Breton slapped Gardner in the head and kicked a baby walker across the room, nearly striking an 18-month-old child. He threw a bowl of uncooked vegetables at Gardner, hitting her in the back of the head. He then poured a bottle of milk over Gardner's head, which also splashed onto the baby. In court, Breton initially pleaded innocent and said 'what happened over the weekend is a misunderstanding ... We're gonna get married in September ... She doesn't hate me ... I apologized.'

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