EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

April 13, 2013

Danville chief charged for not securing gun used in teen suicide

Danville chief charge for not securing gun teen used in suicide

By Doug Ireland
direland@eagletribune.com

---- — DANVILLE — The father of a teenager who fatally shot himself with police Chief Wade Parsons’ gun called the longtime chief “irresponsible” yesterday.

Geoffrey Carver, the father of 15-year-old Jacob Carver, spoke from the door of his Diamond Drive home yesterday.

“He’s just very irresponsible,” Carver said. “I don’t feel like talking right now.”

Less than an hour earlier, Rockingham County Attorney James Reams announced Parsons was being charged for failing to secure his loaded service weapon before leaving his Caramel Drive home March 11 to run errands. The teen was in Parsons’ home at the time.

Jacob, who is also the son of Parsons’ girlfriend, Debbie Carver, was found dead in Parsons’ home that evening. He was a freshman at Timberlane Regional High School who wrestled and played football.

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.

Parsons, 54, will be prosecuted in 10th Circuit Court in Plaistow on a charge of negligent storage of firearms — a violation punishable by a $1,000 fine — because a child under 16 was able to gain access to the weapon, Reams said. A court date has not been scheduled, he said.

For weeks, state police said although the death was not accidental, they would not confirm it was a suicide. Reams confirmed yesterday the teen shot and killed himself.

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

As state police completed their investigation, Lt. Christopher Vetter said it would be up to Reams’s office to determine if charges would be filed.

Since the boy’s death, members of the public — through phone calls and letters — have 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, was signed “Timberlane Regional High School Parents and Friends of Jacob Carver.” The letter also asked Parsons to provide gun safety classes at local schools.

Reams said his office hasn’t received any pressure from the public to charge the affable chief, whom he said he’s known for years.

“I don’t think there’s anyone who feels worse than Wade Parsons,” he said.

Reams said he has not talked to Parsons, who was told of the charge earlier this week.

Reams said he met with the boy’s family, but wouldn’t comment on their discussion. He did say no one knows why the popular teen decided to take his own life.

“Nobody seems to have any explanation,” Reams said. “Everyone is baffled by it.”

Parsons was out of work for at least two weeks before returning to duty in late March.

“I can’t say anything because it’s still under investigation,” he said.

Parsons was at the Danville station briefly yesterday morning, but left and could not be reached for comment.

Reporters waited in the parking lot, hoping to speak to him.

A woman peeked out the window, then turned off the light when a reporter knocked on the door of Parsons’ home yesterday.

Reams said it would be up to Danville officials and the New Hampshire Police Standards and Training Council to determine if Parsons remains chief, an elected position he’s held since 1995. He is currently serving a three-year term.

None one from the council could be reached for comment.

Danville Selectmen’s Chairman Shawn O’Neil said the board will continue to back Parsons. There have been no requests for him to step down, he said.

“I have confidence in Wade and I’ll support him,” O’Neil said. “I’ll support him at the polls, too.”

O’Neil said Parsons has done a good job as chief.

“It’s not going to bring Jacob back,” O’Neill said of prosecuting Parsons.