×

Greenfield select board member says stray bullet that hit an officer’s home was an accident

  • Greenfield select board members voted unanimously to postpone the police chief search after a stray bullet hit Sgt. Glenn Roberge's home on Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017.(Abby Kessler / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Abby Kessler—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • Greenfield select board members voted unanimously to postpone the police chief search after a stray bullet hit Sgt. Glenn Roberge's home on Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017.(Abby Kessler / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Abby Kessler—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Wednesday, October 11, 2017

A select board member in Greenfield said the stray bullet that shattered a local officer’s window earlier this month was not fired maliciously. 

“I still don’t understand how it happened,” Stephen Atherton said about the incident after a regular meeting on Tuesday night. “It continues to baffle me.”

Atherton said he and a handful of other people were shooting guns on a family-owned piece of property located on the 600 block of Forest Road on Sunday, Oct. 1 when a stray bullet shattered a window at Sgt. Glenn Roberge’s home.

Greenfield Police Chief Brian Giammarino said last week that no one was injured as a result of the incident.

State police responded to the call and are investigating the matter. A call to the officer handling the case was not returned by deadline on Wednesday.

Atherton said he couldn’t see Roberge’s residence from where they were shooting. Roberge and Atherton both live on Forest Road.

“You’ve got acres of woods between the shooting area and the road, never mind across the road and into [Roberge’s] house, so it’s not like it’s one of those things where you can see it if you look really closely through the trees or anything like that,” Atherton said.

 Atherton said he’s shot on the piece of property many times before and handles firearms with some frequency. That Sunday didn’t seem much different than any other day.

He said he was with a handful of other people and he also heard shooting noises coming from multiple different areas that day. Atherton said it’s possible that the stray bullet that hit the officer’s window could have come from someone else’s firearm.

“It could have been me, but I’m certainly not going to blame it on somebody else,” Atherton said. “I’m certainly the focus of this being a select board member so the attention is going to be on me. I’ll accept it.”

Atherton said he was shooting a small semi-automatic .380 caliber handgun that day. At first, authorities said the bullet found in Roberge’s home was a 9 mm but they later corrected it and said it was a .380.

“And it’s like OK well, in that case, yes I was shooting a .380,” Atherton said.

He said he hasn’t been out on the family shooting range since the stray bullet event unfolded. He says he’s not sure if he ever will again either.

“I probably don’t see myself shooting down there again from guilt, shame, and again disgust in myself for having it come to that,” Atherton said. “It could have been a lot worse that’s what the bottom line is.”

Atherton said he went over to Roberge’s house the day after the incident to apologize. 

“He’s an excellent officer,” Atherton said about Roberge. “He’s an asset to this town in every way and the idea that I, through no intent of my own, came as close as I did to injuring him, or worse, makes me sick to my stomach.”

Atherton is a gun enthusiast whose social media presence includes videos with firearms. In one video he is shooting a modified AR-15, according to the comments.

Select board members voted 2-0 to postpone the police chief search again on Tuesday night. Select board chair Margo Charig Bliss said there is a connection between the stray bullet incident and the suspension of the police chief search, but said she couldn’t reveal the details of that connection. Charig Bliss said she couldn’t name any of the applicants who had applied for the police chief job and declined to comment whether Roberge is being considered.

Charig Bliss said there may be more clarity at the board’s next regular meeting on Tuesday.

Atherton said he hasn’t heard much about the state police investigation since the event happened but is under the impression that he will have to pay for damage caused by the bullet.

“The fact that nobody got hurt is the important thing and just goes to show you can’t be too careful no matter how familiar you think you are with your surroundings and how well you know your area and how comfortable you are with firearms,” Atherton said.

Abby Kessler can be reached at 924-7172, ext. 234 or akessler@ledgertranscript.com.