EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

September 3, 2006

Cotnoir looks to buy Mount Carmel Church

METHUEN - The Lawrence Marine who fired a shotgun into a crowd of noisy clubgoers in Lawrence last year wants to buy the shuttered Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church on Union Street.

Daniel Cotnoir, a mortician, would turn the three-building campus - a church, school and convent - into a funeral home, he said.

Cotnoir, 34, lives above his business, the Racicot Funeral Home at 256 Broadway in Lawrence. He wants to sell the building and leave Lawrence, calling the city unsafe.

"Considering the fact that the Police Department cannot or will not protect my family, as soon as possible I want to be out of the city of Lawrence," Cotnoir said.

The Marine sergeant was found not guilty in June of firing a 12-gauge shotgun into a crowded Lawrence parking lot last summer just before 3 a.m., wounding two Lowell residents. The jury decided that it was self-defense.

Lawrence police Chief John Romero, who revoked Cotnoir's gun license in July, has said that Cotnoir showed poor judgment by shooting into the crowd.

"Lawrence is committed to protecting its citizens, and that includes Mr. Cotnoir and his family as well," the chief said.

Cotnoir said Methuen residents will welcome him, despite the shooting incident. Many Methuen residents who used to live in Lawrence fled due to safety concerns, he said.

"I've never walked down the streets in Methuen and not have someone congratulate me and shake my hand," Cotnoir said. "I don't think there is an issue in regard to that. I think the people of Methuen understand."

Mount Carmel Church, at 78 Union St. in Methuen, closed six years ago due to a lack of priests and a decline in parishioners. It was built in 1922 and was the first French Canadian parish in the city. The church, school and convent have been on the market for eight months.

The Archdiocese of Boston will not comment on a sale until a purchase and sales agreement is signed, said Terrence Donilon, archdiocese spokesman. The archdiocese told Cotnoir that he is the only potential buyer, he said.

Cotnoir would not reveal the asking price, though the property is valued at $1.6 million, according to city assessing records.

"I'm the only one with a purchase and sales agreement on my desk," Cotnoir said.

He is waiting for details to be sorted with the archdiocese before the sale can be made final, he said.

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