By PHILLIP BANTZ
The Keene Sentinel: February 04, 2010
The man killed during a standoff with police Tuesday night in Keene was a father of four and the son of a veteran police officer.
A Keene police officer shot Charles E. “Chuck” Turcotte, 39, while he held a knife to his ex-girlfriend’s throat at her residence on 48 Spruce St., said Senior Assistant Attorney General Janice K. Rundles.
Turcotte died from a single gunshot wound to his head, according to N.H. Chief Medical Examiner Thomas A. Andrew. His death has been classified as a homicide.
The ex-girlfriend and homeowner, identified by property records and friends as Hae Kyong Whitcomb, was not injured and neither were her teenage son and daughter, who were inside the residence during the incident, Rundles said.
The Attorney General’s Office is withholding the identities of the ex-girlfriend, her children and the Keene officer who shot Turcotte during the standoff.
When asked to explain why the officer is not being identified, Rundles said: “We’re still conducting interviews. We’re still looking at records.”
The officer involved in the shooting has been placed on administrative leave, which is standard procedure in police-involved shootings.
One of the teens inside the residence called 911 at 9:42 p.m., and said Turcotte had broken into the house and was threatening Whitcomb, Rundles said.
Rundles said two officers were initially sent to Whitcomb’s house after the 911 call, and two others were there when the shooting occurred. She said the standoff was “fairly brief,” but declined to provide a timeline.
Witnesses said more than a dozen police cruisers were parked outside the house after the shooting.
Turcotte’s father, Roger A. Turcotte, was working as a lieutenant with the Stoddard Police Department and as a sergeant with the Roxbury Police Department when he died in March 2007. His law enforcement career began in 1995, when he was hired by the Cheshire County Sheriff’s Office. He went on to serve as a police officer in Nelson, Surry and Winchester.
Charles Turcotte worked as a carpenter and lived in Keene. He fathered two children, a son, 10, and a daughter, 8, with his ex-wife, Tracy, of Swanzey, according to court documents in a divorce and child support payment case at Cheshire County Superior Court.
Charles and Tracy Turcotte filed for divorce in May 17, 2005, citing irreconcilable differences. She could not be reached for comment.
Turcotte also had two daughters, ages 12 and 14, with a former girlfriend, Jennifer L. Garner of Swanzey.
In 1993, Garner filed for a restraining order against Turcotte. Details in the case were not available because the file at Keene District Court was destroyed in 2002.
Garner’s longtime partner, Greg Willette, said Turcotte was a loving father who relished the time he spent with his daughters.
“He enjoyed taking them camping,” he said. “The girls really looked up to him. He was greatly loved. Even Jen, who hasn’t been with him for years, still cared for him. … He had a lot of friends in the Keene area. He was a funny guy. He was good at lifting other people’s spirits up, except for his own.”
Turcotte and Whitcomb had dated for two years and lived together until last month, when their relationship fell apart and he moved out of her house, Willette said.
“I just think Chuck loved really hard and was having a hard time letting go,” he said.
An employee at a neighborhood market near Spruce Street said Turcotte came into the store last week and talked about having a bad breakup with Whitcomb.
“He wasn’t very happy about it,” said the employee, who requested anonymity.
Whitcomb was a regular at the market, where she bought lottery tickets.
“She came in probably twice a week,” the employee said. “She keeps to herself, but she’s a really nice lady.”
No one answered the door at Whitcomb’s house late Wednesday afternoon when the yellow crime-scene tape that had surrounded her property was gone and the police cruisers had driven away.
The Attorney General’s Office continues to investigate the shooting and is releasing few details on how the situation unfolded.
Keene police Lt. Shane C. Maxfield, who declined to speak about the shooting, but agreed to talk about police tactics dealing with deadly force, said officers are trained to aim for the center of a target. In an ideal situation, this would be a torso, he said.
“That’s general firearms training principle,” he said. “But if somebody is shooting at me and the only thing I can see is their knee, then I’m going to end up shooting at their knee because that is the only target that is available to me.”
Maxfield added that police are “not trained to shoot to wound people.”
“The thing about shooting somebody in the knee is if you shoot the knee you have no idea what that person is going to do afterward,” he said. “They’re usually still perfectly capable of doing most of the bad stuff they were planning to do.”