MANCHESTER — The shooting death of a graffiti artist Saturday night on Prospect Street may have been a case of someone bringing a gun to what was expected to be a fist fight.
Mark Donnelly, 31, who was originally from Nashua but lived and worked in Manchester for the past couple of years, was the victim of the shooting, according to friends as well as his fiancee, Vanessa Hall of Manchester, the mother of his 2-year-old daughter, Madyson.
On Tuesday morning, the New Hampshire Attorney General's Office issued a news release identifying Donnelly as the murder victim. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner performed an autopsy Monday and determined he died from a single gunshot wound to the chest.
Donnelly, also father of 7-year-old Haleigh, was a talented graffiti artist and a man with a warm heart and kind soul, according to those who knew him.
Hall, his girlfriend of four years, said Donnelly was heading back to a party at a Penacook Street apartment of a friend who was graduating from college Sunday. Two other friends were with him when, Hall said, they were approached by a woman who asked them for money.
Brian Dauphinee, in postings Monday on the UnionLeader.com website in which he identified Donnelly as his best friend with whom he worked at Dunkin' Donuts on Hanover Street, said Donnelly and one of the other two individuals with him were rude to the woman and gave her a hard time.
The woman said she would return with her boyfriend. Donnelly, who Hall said was about 6 foot 2 and weighed 215 to 220 pounds, told her to go ahead and get her boyfriend, that he would fight him, according to Dauphinee.
Then, as the group walked a few blocks farther down and were on Prospect Street, near Pine Street, a sedan pulled up alongside them. Scared, one of the friends ran off, Hall said. Rob Bernier stayed with Donnelly.
A man inside the car showed them a gun, Hall said.
"He saw the gun and Mark said, 'I don't want to fight you. I'm not a bitch,'" she said Donnelly told the gunman. "I'll fight you one on one."
The man opened fire. Witnesses reported hearing about a half-dozen shots that sounded like a semi-automatic weapon.
Lisa Katon, who lives on the third floor of 67 Prospect St., said she was watching television about 11 p.m. when she heard what she thought were fireworks. Then she heard yelling outside and looked out her window to see a man collapsed on the sidewalk in front of 61 Prospect St.
The injured man was on a cellphone at the time, she said, and was saying he had been shot. Whoever was on the phone with him, she said, must have asked where he was because she heard him say he was on Prospect Street.
Katon said another man with him was performing CPR and yelling, "Somebody call 911 for my buddy."
Hall said Bernier was trying to stop the flow of blood. "He was trying to keep him with him and was talking to him so he wouldn't be scared," she said.
Katon immediately called 911, but the dispatcher told her they already had received numerous calls.
"It was like a bad dream. It was crazy," Katon said.
An ambulance arrived soon after and took the injured man to Elliot Hospital, which was placed on lockdown until 1:15 a.m. Sunday.
Dauphinee, in postings to unionleader.com, said he was supposed to be with Donnelly Saturday night, but worked instead.
"I told him not to get into any trouble before I left ... You know Mark, always gettin' into fights when he drinks ... even with a gun in his face he still didn't back down. It's just so hard to believe someone so benevolent was taken so soon. It still doesn't feel real. I just seen him."
Stacey Lynn Hall Ruse of Raymond, Vanessa Hall's mother, said, "He had a great heart, a good soul," she said. "He was a good guy. There's another child that will grow up without a father."
Donnelly was a talented graffiti artist whom people hired to paint entire rooms in their homes, according to Hall.
Adam Brown, 26, of Nashua said Donnelly was sought after by parents who wanted their children's names done in graffiti on canvas.
"He was a master at graffiti lettering," said Brown, who owns the graffiti store Streetwise in Nashua. Donnelly also was known for his artistry with anything having to do with the Boston professional sports teams.
Brown was shocked by his death.
"Mark, he doesn't do anything bad," Brown said. "He doesn't do drugs. It wasn't drug-related. He definitely was the victim."
No one has been arrested, but the investigation is continuing.
Anyone with any information about the murder is asked to call detectives at 668-8711 or Manchester Crimeline at 624-4040.
New Hampshire Union Leader reporter Paul Feely contributed to this report.