EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

June 18, 2013

Danville police chief pleads not guilty in gun case

By Doug Ireland

---- — PLAISTOW — Danville police Chief Wade Parsons contends he’s not responsible for the death of a 15-year-old boy who shot and killed himself with the chief’s service revolver.

Parsons, 54, has pleaded not guilty in the death March 11 of his girlfriend’s son, Jacob Carver. The chief is charged with failing to secure his loaded handgun before leaving his home on Caramel Drive in Danville to run errands.

Jacob, a Timberlane Regional High School freshman, was found dead in the home later that night.

Parsons waived his arraignment yesterday in 10th Circuit Court. His attorney, Alan Cronheim, filed the waiver request and plea late last week.

Parsons was not at the police station yesterday. Neither he nor Cronheim could be reached for comment.

A pretrial conference in the case has been scheduled for Aug. 8. A trial has not been scheduled.

If convicted of the negligent storage of firearms charge, a violation, Parsons faces a potential $1,000 fine, but no jail time.

Parsons has said he could not talk about the case while it was under investigation.

State police were tight-lipped about the investigation for weeks. Although investigators said the death was not accidental, they would not confirm it was a suicide.

Parsons wasn’t charged until a month after the teen’s death.

Rockingham County Attorney James Reams said his office decided to charge Parsons because of the severity of the shooting and to send a message to gun owners they need to take precautions.

“I hope it’s a reminder that if you have a dangerous weapon, you must secure it,” Reams said.

He said the Glock 22 .40-caliber handgun was left on top of a closet safe, where Parsons regularly stores the weapon. There were no other weapons in the house, Reams said.

Jacob, who wrestled and played football, is the son of Parsons’ girlfriend, Debbie Carver. The boy’s father, Geoffrey Carver, has declined to comment other than to say Parsons is “very irresponsible.”

Parsons, elected to a three-year term and Danville’s chief since 1995, was out of work for at least two weeks before returning to duty in late March.

Reams has said family members did not know why the teen took his own life.

After the boy’s death, members of the public — through phone calls and letters — called for details of the police investigation to be made public.

They included a letter from the Timberlane community that was sent to Parsons and media organizations, signed “Timberlane Regional High School Parents and Friends of Jacob Carver.” The letter also asked Parsons to provide gun safety classes at local schools.

Danville Selectmen’s Chairman Shawn O’Neil has said his board will continue to back Parsons.