The police in cozy Hampton Falls, NH, in the persons of Chief Robbie Dirsa and Officer Joe Lister, came to Jeff Guyette’s house for that reason. Under New Hampshire law, the police take any weapons owned by the subject of an Restraining Order. That’s pretty standard, and it’s black-letter law. There’s no gun registration in NH, so it’s heavily dependent on the cooperation of the RO subject. (He’s not a “suspect” — an RO is administrative, and in NH as elsewhere it’s a fairly standard negotiating tactic in divorces; for good or for ill, that’s what the lawyers have made of it).
Dirsa said, “In a small town, it’s often like that — you know the people and whatnot — so it’s always difficult” when things go awry.
“I’ve known (Guyette) and his wife for a long time and never expected that (December incident),” Dirsa said.
Dirsa noted that often when officers are serving restraining orders it can touch a nerve for the person being served.
Guyette was well-known to the police, but not in that way. His dog used to get out and go hang around the police station down the street, and Guyette or his wife would collect the animal.
But as they were collecting Guyette’s weapons, the man made a decision which did make him a suspect. Seacoast Online’s Nick B. Reid reports:
“And in the process of doing so, he, I guess, made a choice that he shouldn’t have made, in that he ended up grabbing a loaded gun and not putting it down when ordered to do so,” Dirsa said.
According to the indictment, Guyette “place or attempted to place the two officers in fear of imminent bodily injury.”
Dirsa said he and Lister “ended up wrestling (the weapon) away from (Guyette), and he subsequently was arrested.”
“He was kind of resistant, but not to the point of really being a big issue,” Dirsa said, then “he just changed his mind at some point and made it unpleasant for all of us.”
In an urban police department, among strangers, Guyette would have been shot dead. In rural New Hampshire, he lives to face charges in Superior Court (which tells us at least one of the charges is a felony; initial misdemeanor charges are adjudicated in a lower circuit called District Court). He was indicted and arraigned last month.
He now has more problems than he had when the police came to his door, but he’s still alive to have problems. (And if he beats the felonies, which he probably can by pleading out to a lesser charge, and gets the restraining order lifted, he can probably get his guns back. As long as he’s not still acting like a lovestruck moose).
There are situations where some woman might be worth getting shot over, but the one that left you and has a restraining order on your ass is not the one you need to take a slug for. All the powers in the universe should be crying out to you: time to say, “Next!”
If the case is as reported, Mr Guyette is only alive because of the forbearance, professionalism and sang-froid of a couple of small-town cops, who took a risk to disarm and subdue a guy because he was a neighbor. They would have been able to justify blowing a tight pattern of .40 caliber holes through his liver — to the other authorities, at least, if not to their own consciences.
All in all, a decent outcome from a potentially sour situation. One hopes Guyette realizes just how fortune has smiled on him, takes whatever sanction the court duly metes out, and is grateful.