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Girl, 5, found asleep with loaded gun in deplorable conditions when Manchester police probe shots fired

New Hampshire Union Leader

July 19. 2018 1:00PM

Police described the conditions inside the 2nd-floor apartment at 64 Flaherty Lane as deplorable. They found a 5-year-old girl inside sleeping with a loaded pistol on her chest, they said. (MARK HAYWARD/UNION LEADER)

MANCHESTER — A man accused of keeping his daughter in a fetid apartment with a loaded gun on her chest is devoted to his daughter and friendly, but also an avid gun owner who puts on an air of authority at times, his astonished neighbors said Thursday.

Police said they arrested Thomas Gulledge, 29, after entering his West Side apartment late Wednesday night and finding a 5-year-old girl sleeping with a fully loaded, holstered .45-caliber handgun on her chest.

The apartment was littered with dog feces, trash and rotten food, police said. Multiple flies were in the apartment, and police noted trash and rotten food was piled on the edges of the girl's bedroom.

"Inside there was a dog laying on the floor next to the bed and a child laying, apparently sleeping in the middle of the bed, covered in a blanket with a black firearm on top of her inside a holster," reads a police affidavit written by Officer Edwin Sepulveda.

One round was in the chamber; 12 in the magazine, police said.
Police said the state Division for Children, Youth and Families placed the girl in a foster home.

The second-floor apartment is at 64 Flaherty Lane. The narrow street runs parallel to Main Street between West High School and Catholic Medical Center.

"I can't believe he did this; that poor baby. I was so pissed off I started crying," said Shauna Erwin, who lives in an adjacent apartment building.

She described Gulledge as nice and friendly and devoted to his daughter. For example, he does not own a car and would walk to Goffstown late at night to pick up the girl when she wanted to leave her mother's house, Erwin said.

The mother has moved farther away and Gulledge is now, in effect, a single parent, Erwin said.

"He takes care of her. He does not take care of himself," she said.

A mailbox marked Gulledge overflows inside 64 Flaherty Lane. (MARK HAYWARD/UNION LEADER)

When he is not working at his factory job, Gulledge works with the landlord to keep the complex of three tenement buildings maintained and in repair.

He also claimed he used to work on a drug task force, as a deputy sheriff in Alabama and as a firefighter, Erwin said. "He tried to be like Mr. Law Enforcement himself," she said.

"I would never picture him doing something like that," said Nick Dickerson, who said he would work sometimes with Gulledge and the landlord, Bill Monnie, on projects.

Dickerson said Gulledge often would speak about guns and what guns he wanted to buy.

"He was one of those gun nuts," he said. 

During an arraignment in Hillsborough County Superior Court-North Thursday, lawyers said Gulledge moved to New Hampshire from Alabama in 2014. He was convicted in Merrimack of driving with a suspended license.

Lawyers said Gulledge has sole custody of the child.

Both Erwin and Dickerson said he lived in the apartment for several years. Both said they had been inside his apartment but not recently.

They said it was not like police described it when they visited.

Police said they were called to the address about 9:50 p.m. Wednesday for a call of gun shots. Police said several witnesses said they heard gunshots and saw a woman falling to the ground outside Gulledge's second floor apartment. 

Gulledge gave police permission to clear his apartment when asked about the gunshots, and that's when police found the conditions.

Dickerson said the noise came from the yard to the west of the apartment complex. Dickerson said he was on the porch and saw a man and a "little orange, red color."
Although some said it could be a firework, he did not see a flame or a trail. He said Gulledge actually called police.

Gulledge was charged with two counts of reckless conduct. One charges Gulledge for leaving a firearm on top of the girl; the other alleges that the fecal matter located throughout the apartment was a deadly weapon.

During the arraignment, a judge set his bail at $10,000.; Union Leader photographer Josh Gibney contributed to this story.

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