By Mike LaBella
---- — HAVERHILL — Police allege that on Tuesday evening a man in a wheelchair fired five or six rounds of bullets into a vehicle that was in front of 1 Water St., a high-rise apartment building across from Central Plaza.
The shootings appeared to be the result of an argument between the victim and the suspect over narcotics and occurred at a time of night when people were still food shopping in the plaza and were coming and going from a gym.
Police said they were not informed of the incident until early yesterday morning, when they were contacted by police in Manchester, N.H.
Yesterday at approximately 12:30 p.m., the Haverhill Police Detective Unit with the assistance of the NEMLEC (North East Law Enforcement Council) SWAT Team executed a search warrant at 1 Water St., apt. 712, and arrested Keith Leavitt, 30, of that address.
Leavitt was charged with two counts of possession of a firearm without a Firearms Identification Card, possession of ammunition without a FID, discharging a firearm within 500 feet of a dwelling, and assault with intent to murder. Leavitt was held overnight at the Middleton jail.
Police said that because Leavitt is in a wheelchair, he is expected to be arraigned this morning on the charges in Newburyport District Court.
Police said Haverhill District Court is not accessible to persons in a wheelchair.
According to Haverhill police spokesman Detective Lt. Robert Pistone, at approximately 1:30 a.m. yesterday, police in Manchester, N.H. contacted Haverhill Police to say a Manchester resident reported that on Tuesday at approximately 8:30 p.m. her vehicle was outside of 1 Water St. in Haverhill when it was fired upon by a man described as Keith Leavitt. Police said Leavitt was in his wheelchair on the sidewalk in front of the building when he allegedly shot at the woman’s van.
The rear window of the woman’s van was shot out and a projectile from the discharged firearm was lodged in the vehicle, police said.
Haverhill detectives traveled to Manchester to speak to the woman and subsequently obtained evidence that lead to a search warrant for the suspect’s (Leavitt’s) apartment at 1 Water St.
Pistone said the search warrant yielded two revolvers and hundreds of rounds of ammunition. He said the assault appeared to have been the result of an argument between the victim and suspect over narcotics.
“We sent detectives out to canvas the area and somebody at the gym in the plaza said that on Tuesday night they’d heard what they thought were gunshots but dismissed it as a car backfiring,” Pistone said.