MANCHESTER, NH — For all the information police believe they now know about the shooting death of a Bedford woman in a North End neighborhood, the one thing Chief Nick Willard doesn’t yet know is “why.”
He said from all his experience as an investigator, the likelihood that the Sunday night shooting that claimed the life of Denise Robert, 62, of Bedford, was random, is hard to accept.
I believe there was intent, I just don’t know what that is,” said Chief Nick Willard. “This woman had an endearing spirit, “Her loss is going to be felt.”
Associate Attorney General Jane Young described the routine they believe Robert followed between 6 p.m and the time of the shooting, just before 9 pm. on Aug. 30.
Robert left the Executive Health Club, 1 Highlander Way, near the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport at about 6 p.m., and then stopped by a Vitamin World on South Willow Street, leaving there at about 6:08 p.m., and then to Walmart on South Willow Street, leaving there at 7:07 p.m., and then the Hannaford on John Devine Drive, leaving there around 8:21 p.m. before parking her car at Brookside Congregational Church and going for a walk, something she did routinely on Sundays, according to Willard.
Robert was found dead within the next 30 minutes.
An earlier report that Robert was walking her dog was “bad information,” Young said. “There was no dog,” she said. Robert, who was health conscious, enjoyed walking in the North End neighborhood.
According to police, neighbors reported hearing what they thought, at first, was the sound of fireworks just before 9 p.m., and another neighbor reported seeing a dark, possibly rust-colored older model pick-up truck speeding from the area, from Carpenter to Union street, toward Webster.
The driver may be a white man in his 20s or 30s, close-cropped hair, last seen wearing a white sleeveless T-shirt, Willard said.
From a public safety standpoint, residents should remain alert, but not alarmed, Willard added.
He is asking the public’s help — anyone who may have seen anything that can connect Robert to a possible suspect at any point during the timeline leading up to the shooting — should contact police at 603-668-8711, or leave an anonymous tip via Crimeline 624-4040.
Willard is also asking homeowners in the area with surveillance video that might be helpful in the investigation to come forward.
Mayor Ted Gatsas, who attended a 2 p.m. news conference at Manchester Police headquarters, later released a statement offering his condolences to the family:
“Last evening’s tragedy has left an unexplained loss of a beloved sister, daughter and friend and my thoughts and prayers go out to everyone in this very difficult time,” Gatsas said.
“The North End of Manchester is an extremely close-knit community and this senseless act has left a neighborhood with many questions, searching for answers and an explanation. Chief Nick Willard and the men and women of the Manchester Police Department will not rest until there is justice for the victim. Violence like this will not be tolerated in Manchester,” the statement read.
Alderman Joyce Craig, who also attended the news conference, was working with police to organize a community meeting Monday night at Webster Fire Station, 5:30 p.m. to answer questions and try to allay fears. Craig said the meeting was intended for immediate neighbors.
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