Man accused in Merrimack shooting claims gun accidentally dischargedBy KIMBERLY HOUGHTON
Union Leader Correspondent
May 24. 2018 8:10PM
NASHUA — The Merrimack man accused of shooting a 19-year-old because he did not have any drugs with him told police that his gun accidentally fired.
Jackson R. Crawford, 22, of 4 Oxford St., is now facing a charge of attempted murder, among other felony offenses, for the Wednesday evening shooting on Mill Street near Depot Street boat ramp in Merrimack.
The victim, identified in court on Thursday as ‘I.S.’, suffered two gunshot wounds — one directly above his heart and the other near his armpit. Still, police say the victim was stabilized and transported to the Lahey Hospital and Medical Center in Burlington, Mass.; authorities say he was alert enough to speak with them after the shooting.
According to Kent Smith of the Hillsborough County Attorney’s Office, Crawford had been messaging the victim throughout the day on Thursday asking for a meeting, which the victim finally agreed to.
During the meeting at the parking lot of the boat ramp, Crawford attempted to negotiate a drug transaction with the victim, Smith told the court during a hearing on Thursday.
“He became very angry,” upon learning that the victim, who had just been released from the Valley Street jail, did not have any drugs and was trying to remain clean.
Crawford allegedly threatened to shoot the 19-year-old, and then told him, “You think I am playing,” before the gun discharged and hit the teen, said Smith.
The victim told police that while he was on the ground wounded, all of the occupants of the vehicle came up from behind and began assaulting him.
“He was then shot a second time as he was laying on the ground,” said Smith, adding it is still not clear who shot the victim the second time.
Crawford later told police that he intended to steal drugs from I.S. as a payback for a separate, unrelated drug issue, according to Smith. He said Crawford acknowledged having a handgun in his lap in the car, but Crawford maintains he only intended to pistol whip the teen when the gun accidentally fired.
It is only “by the grace of God,” that the victim is still alive, Smith told Judge Jacalyn Colburn, stressing the serious nature of the crime.
Crawford’s attorney, Eleftheria Keans, said the victim also had a gun during the incident, contending that I.S. was reaching for his waistband for a weapon when Crawford grabbed his own gun.
“I think that is a significant factor,” said Keans, arguing an accidental discharge is much different than an intentional shot to the chest.
Crawford has a criminal history, and was previously arrested and charged with rioting; that offense, however, was lowered to a simple assault charge a few years ago at Hillsborough County Superior Court North in Manchester.
“You are a significant danger to the community,” Colburn told Crawford, setting his bail at $100,000 cash only.
Colburn said that not only are there inconsistencies with Crawford’s version of events, but it does not make sense that he would have a gun on his lap in a car with the intention of pistol whipping someone.
“Even taking the facts in the most favorable (way) to you … this bail is warranted,” said Colburn. Crawford has been charged with attempted murder, robbery with a deadly weapon, first-degree assault with a deadly weapon and conspiracy to commit robbery with a deadly weapon.
A 17-year-old was also arrested in connection with the shooting, however his identity has not been released since he is a juvenile.
A third occupant in the vehicle, Robert J. Brown, 18, of 30 Armory St., Nashua, was also arrested and charged with falsifying physical evidence, resisting arrest and robbery with a deadly weapon.
Kent said that Brown was in the vehicle at the time of the shooting and allegedly got out and began beating the victim after he had already suffered one gunshot wound. Brown is also accused of throwing a gun along the side of the road; police eventually retrieved the loaded weapon.
Brown’s bail was set at $50,000 cash or surety. A fourth suspect in the shooting is still being sought by police. Anyone with information is urged to contact authorities at 424-3774, or leave an anonymous tip at 424-2424.