N.H. school district closed as police search for driver who ‘deliberately’ struck Mass. police chief

HINSDALE, N.H. — A New Hampshire school district closed its schools on Wednesday as police continue to search for a driver who allegedly struck a police chief in Massachusetts, then drove to the Granite State, crashed near a school and walked away from the vehicle.

Police described the driver in the hit-and-run crash, Michael Martelle, as a white male with medium build and was last seen wearing black shorts and no shirt. Authorities are asking the public to remain vigilant.

The incident on Tuesday prompted a Hinsdale school to shelter in place, and schools in the public school district were closed on Wednesday. All sporting events are also cancelled.

“The Hinsdale School District canceled school and all school activities on May 22, 2024, as a precautionary measure to protect students and staff from any threat posed by an ongoing police search for a fleeing suspect in the area,” April Anderson, a Hinsdale School Board member, said in a statement. “Police reported to the school district on Tuesday evening at 9:45 pm that the suspect had been last seen in a neighborhood adjacent to the school campus.”

“With no new information or update on the suspect’s apprehension or location by 4:45 am Wednesday morning, the school district took the precautionary step to close for the day,” Anderson said.

Hinsdale Police said the department has received numerous calls from the public.

“While the driver has not been located, there is no information that would indicate he poses an Immediate threat to the public,” police said in a Facebook post. “Please continue to be vigilant and call police for any possible sightings.”

“We have not instructed the town to hunker down, please just be aware of your surroundings,” police said.

On Tuesday afternoon, around 3:19 p.m., local police were notified that a police officer had been struck by a motor vehicle in Warwick, Massachusetts in a hit-and-run crash.

In a Facebook post on Tuesday night, the Warwick, Massachusetts police department identified the officer who was struck as Warwick Police Chief David Shoemaker. His condition was not known on Wednesday.

“While assisting Sgt. John Stewart at a motor vehicle stop, Warwick Chief David Shoemaker was deliberately struck twice by the stopped motorist’s car,” police said in their post.

“Fleeing northbound, Officers terminated pursuit of the suspect due to safety concerns and continued towards Hinsdale,” police said. “There the suspect attempted to ram Sgt Stewart’s cruiser and left the scene, only to crash in the area of the Hinsdale school. The female passenger was taken into custody and the male fled on foot. A K9 and drone were requested and deployed.”

Police removed Martelle’s vehicle for processing.

The vehicle, which police said Martelle drove away from the scene, was last seen headed west on Route 119 in New Hampshire headed towards Hinsdale, police said.

A Hinsdale police unit responded to the area of Main Street and spotted the vehicle, which sped away, police said.

A short time later, the vehicle crashed on Brattleboro Road, where both Martelle, the driver, and a female passenger took off on foot.

The passenger, later identified as Estrella Crespo, was arrested and charged with disobeying an officer, police said.

Martelle continued to walk away on foot. Police said it is unknown if he has a weapon.

“Due to the vicinity of the incident to the school, the school was notified and they were instructed to shelter in place,” police said in a Facebook post.

“We would like to recognize the quick response from the Hinsdale School District in taking the appropriate action to ensure the safety of staff and children that were still on school property during this incident,” police said.

Anyone with information on the incident is urged to call 911 or Hinsdale Police.

Assisting police in their search were the Chesterfield Police Department, Warwick, Massachusetts Police Department, Winchester Police Department, Cheshire County Sheriff’s Office with their K-9, Keene Police Department with their K-9, NH Fish and Game and Rescue Inc. Technical Rescue Team with their drone.

Hinsdale is a small town north of Amherst, Massachusetts, just over the New Hampshire/Massachusetts border. The town’s population was 3,948 at the 2020 census.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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