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Family, friends remember Epsom officer gunned down after attending Colebrook funeral

Union Leader Correspondent

August 21. 2017 8:36PM
Grieving family members lay Jeremy Charron to rest after he was shot to death in 1997. (Tom Thibeault/UNION LEADER FILE)

The processional for Epsom police officer Jeremy Charron, who was shot to death in 1997. (Bob LaPree/UNION LEADER FILE)

EPSOM — As a kid, Jeremy Charron knew what he wanted to be when he grew up.

“He knew he wanted to be a Marine and he knew he wanted to be a state trooper. He never got to be a state trooper, but he got to be a Marine,” said his mother, Fran Charron.

(Editorial page: Grant Bosse honors Jeremy Charron’s legacy.)

Charron’s dreams of one day becoming a state trooper were cut short in the early morning hours of Aug. 24, 1997, when he was gunned down during a traffic stop.

The 24-year-old Epsom police officer who spent four years in the Marine Corps was killed by Gordon Perry.

Perry, now 42, is serving a life sentence for shooting Charron when he was investigating a car parked at a local park. Perry got out of the car and fatally shot Charron before he and a friend, Kevin Paul, fled in the car and stole a pickup truck. Paul later pulled a gun on a store clerk in Campton and robbed him.

The two were eventually captured after a police pursuit in which Paul fired on officers.

Charron’s death came just a day after he had attended the funeral of state troopers Leslie Lord and Scott Phillips, who died in Carl Drega’s shooting rampage in Colebrook on Aug. 19, 1997.

“It was a horrible week for New Hampshire,” recalled Charron’s father, Robert.

Fran Charron, 72, will join her daughter and a friend as they mark the anniversary of Charron’s death by visiting the site of the shooting and stopping by the police department. It’s something they’ve done on many anniversaries.

“This year has been emotional because we knew it was 20 years,” Fran said.

It’s also harder this year because Charron’s ashes were spread on his grandfather’s farm in Pittsfield, and the farm is now being sold.

The pain of losing a child has never gone away for the Charrons, who live in Hillsborough. 

The rural road in Epsom where Epsom officer Jeremy Charron was shot. David Burroughs/UNION LEADER

“We’re a pretty strong family. He is thought of often and discussed often among his cousins and his uncles and aunts. They remember him fondly,” said Robert, 75.

Charron wasn’t married, but had a girlfriend at the time of his death.

“We do appreciate the fact that people still remember him. Even though sometimes it makes me cry, it doesn’t matter. It’s the fact that people have remembered him. We want to hear stories that people have about him,” Fran said.

The Charrons described their son as a good-natured guy with a lively personality. He liked being around people and had a strong work ethic.

He was also the type of person who didn’t tolerate bullying.

“He always stood up for the underdog,” Fran said.

Charron is also being remembered by community members and his law enforcement family. 

“It’s something we’ll never forget, whether you lived in town or worked for the department,” said Wayne Preve, who has been Epsom police chief since 2004.

He didn’t join the department until several months after Charron was killed, but he remembered meeting him when Charron brought cruisers to be serviced at a local automotive dealership where Preve was working at the time.

Former Epsom officer Art Locke was supposed to relieve Charron on the morning he was shot. 

“Jeremy was a good officer, a good Marine and a great human being,” he said. 

Fremont police Sgt. Jason Larochelle attended police academy with Charron, as well as Manchester police officer Michael Briggs, who was shot and killed in 2006, and Brentwood police officer Stephen Arkell, who was gunned down in 2014.

Larochelle remembered how he unintentionally lined up next to Charron to march to the funeral services for Lord and Phillips. 

After the funeral they chatted about “the job,” he said. They talked about how Larochelle had to work at 6 a.m. the next day while Charron was working the midnight shift and knew it would be tough after the long day spent in the North Country.

Larochelle learned about the shooting in the morning and the search for the suspects. He said he cried on his way to work — tears of sadness for Jeremy and his family, “but mostly tears of anger.”

“I still get emotional thinking about that week, the week in 2014 when Steve (Arkell) was killed, and other men I have known whose names are now immortalized in stone and on highway markers around the state, but I am proud to have known them and proud of the profession I have chosen. I am honored to serve with men and women who, day after day, put on the uniform, strap on the vest and belt, and go out there to serve the communities that they love, knowing what may be asked of them at any moment,” he said.

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