Their bravery under fire was 'heroic and inspirational'
GREENLAND - Officers acted quickly to save lives when drug task force agents came under fire outside the home of Cullen Mutrie on the night of April 12, 2012.
Stratham Police Officer Chuck Law was at the police station when he heard the call just before 6:30 p.m.
All he knew was that shots had been fired and officers were down.
Within a few minutes, Law arrived at the scene and drove his cruiser through the gunfire to reach the injured officers and bring them to safety.
He easily could have been hit.
"I wasn't thinking of that," Law said. "I had brother officers that were shot, and obviously they needed to be rescued."
Greenland Police Chief Michael Maloney didn't think of the dangers either when moments earlier he saw wounded task force agents and raced over to pull Newmarket Detective Scott Kukesh to safety after Kukesh had been shot in the chest.
Maloney later suffered a fatal gunshot wound, but not before telling Greenland Officer Ted Hartmann to evacuate Kukesh from the scene.
Hartmann drove his cruiser through Mutrie's line of fire, waited for Kukesh and another officer, Dover Detective Gregory Turner, to be loaded into the back of his cruiser, and then rushed them to Portsmouth Regional Hospital.
As a result of their actions that day, Law, Maloney and Hartmann are each being honored with a Union Leader Hero Award for their bravery.
Greenland Police Chief Tara Laurent, who was sworn in as the new chief just hours after Maloney's death, said there were a number of heroes that night.
"Officers, including the Greenland officers, the DTF officers and other responding officers, as well as the dispatchers, performed admirably and without hesitation. Their actions on April 12 are nothing less than heroic and inspirational," she said.
Mutrie's hail of gunfire killed Maloney and left four officers with the Attorney General's Drug Task Force seriously wounded. Mutrie later shot and killed his estranged girlfriend, Brittany Tibbetts, inside the house before turning the gun on himself.
Hartmann, who returned to the scene after rushing the wounded to the hospital, said heroism is "derived from the chance meeting of circumstance and commitment. Under the circumstances, I think everyone's level of commitment shone through."
The 26-year-old Hartmann, who was hired by Maloney in 2006, added, "Every officer present in those first few moments knows what happened, and it is the opinions of those men that is truly humbling."
When he arrived at the scene, Law said, he really didn't know what was happening, but he was armed with his rifle and SWAT vest. Law, 44, serves on the local SWAT unit known as the Seacoast Emergency Response Team and was the first member to arrive.
"I just wanted to get in there and get the job done and get those guys out of there and out of the line of fire," said Law, a 14-year member of the Stratham Police Department who has also served more than 25 years with the New Hampshire Air National Guard working with security forces.
As soon as he loaded the two wounded officers - Rochester Detective Jeremiah Murphy and UNH Police Detective Eric Kulberg - into his cruiser, Law sped off to an ambulance waiting for them down the road.
He then returned to the scene to help set up a perimeter and began coordinating with other SERT members.
Law said he and the other officers were just doing their jobs.
"I think the real hero was Chief Maloney because he made the ultimate sacrifice. He lost his life doing what he loved doing in police work," said Law, who knew Maloney for 18 years.
Stratham Police Chief John Scippa commended the officers for their actions.
"On the night of the Greenland incident, Officer Law, like many others, responded to a call for help from officers who were in harm's way. At great risk to himself, he drove into a very dangerous area and helped remove two officers who had been shot and severely injured. He got them out of danger and got them to medical help. In my mind, that's heroic. In my mind, what those DTF officers did that night was heroic. And without question, what Chief Maloney did that night was heroic," Scippa said.
For the officers who dodged bullets to save their brothers, it's a night they'll never forget.
"I think about it pretty much every day," Law said. "It's just one of those things. It's a reminder of how inherently dangerous our job is."