GREENLAND, N.H. — Michael Maloney was only a few days from retirement as chief of a small-town New Hampshire police department. After more than a quarter-century in law enforcement, he was eager to begin the next chapter of his life.
But there was one more thing he had to do. One final drug bust that would rid a neighborhood of its menace.
Maloney was trying to serve a search warrant Thursday night when a suspect opened fire, killing the 48-year-old chief, injuring four officers from other departments, and plunging the southeastern New Hampshire community of Greenland into a grief that residents say they won't soon get over.
After a tense overnight standoff, the suspected gunman, Cullen Mutrie, and a female acquaintance were found dead in the home early Friday in an apparent murder-suicide or double suicide.
The chief's death rocked a seven-member force more accustomed to reports of burglar alarms and barking dogs than violent crime. Maloney was liked, respected and less than two weeks from retirement.
"In those final days, he sacrificed his life in public service," said Attorney General Michael Delaney.
Maloney had 26 years of experience in law enforcement, the last 12 as chief of the Greenland department.
He was a comforting presence in the coastal town of about 3,500. Maloney seemed to be everywhere, working traffic details, keeping watch over band concerts at the park, always ready to listen to residents' concerns.
"Everybody knew him because he knew everybody," said Cynthia Smith, 73.
Maloney had an especially good rapport with teens and children. He once let a beginning driver off the hook with a warning instead of a ticket, recalled longtime resident Jane Gouzoules, 71. And when Stacie Gregg's two sons were young and refused to stay buckled in their car seats, she drove them to the police station, where Maloney intervened in his typically low-key way.
"He showed them around the cars and he showed them the lights and he sat them up on one of the motorcycles. Just so that they'd feel comfortable and respect him, but not intimidate them," Gregg recalled. "And they listened. He was that kind of guy. He was genuine."
Yet Maloney was also ready for something different. He said he planned to take a month off before launching a new career. As news of his pending retirement spread, townspeople stopped him to wish him luck.
"I have nine more working days left," Maloney told a Board of Selectmen meeting Monday night, "and I have one more item I'm going to clear up."
The hulking, 6-foot-2, 260-pound Mutrie lived along a busy street near Interstate 95 and had long been a thorn in the neighborhood's side, working on loud motorcycles and playing music deep into the night.
Anabolic steroids were once found in his home after he was arrested on domestic assault charges and officers entered to confiscate guns, The Portsmouth Herald reported last year.
Next-door neighbor Lee Miller said she had complained to police repeatedly about suspected drug activity at the house — and was told it was under investigation.
Maloney and the four other officers, all detectives from other departments, were part of a drug task force run by the state attorney general's office. They arrived at Mutrie's house at 6 p.m. Thursday, search warrant in hand. Mutrie was ready, authorities said, opening fire as police tried to gain entry.
Across the street, neighbor Michael Gordon's family was just cleaning up from dinner when he heard a loud popping sound. He thought one of his young sons was banging on the dining room window and went to tell him to stop.
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