Bedford New Hampshire Police Officer Charged With Stealing Vest As Police Motorcycle Club Robbed Store Dead After Committing Suicide At Home

May 19, 2012

BEDFORD, NEW HAMPSHIRE – A second police officer charged with stealing a vest last May from Brian Blackden’s North State Street pepper spray supply shop died at his home May 11, the day the complaints were filed in court.

Gary Norton, a 48-year-old Bedford police sergeant, had not yet been issued a summons for the misdemeanor theft charge, Concord police Lt. Timothy O’Malley said yesterday.

O’Malley said he couldn’t comment on Norton’s cause of death, but Assistant Safety Commissioner Earl Sweeney confirmed the sergeant’s death was a suicide, according to the New Hampshire Union Leader.

Sweeney did not return calls for comment yesterday, and neither did Bedford police Chief John Bryfonski. An obituary published in the Union Leader yesterday said Norton, who worked for the Bedford police for 15 years, died at his home May 11.

Norton and Hill police Sgt. Jonathan Evans, 56, were charged with theft by unauthorized taking for allegedly stealing a vest last May from Blackden’s store at 485 N. State St., where Blackden says he was robbed and threatened by five members of a police motorcycle club.

The complaints, which were signed by the Concord police and filed in Concord’s district court, don’t provide any description of the incident beyond the allegations that Norton and Evans took a vest that belonged to Blackden. O’Malley has directed questions to the Cheshire County Attorney’s Office, where he said the case was transferred because of possible conflicts of interest.

The assistant Cheshire County attorney handling the case, John Webb, did not return calls for comment.

Blackden said he was robbed by men who belonged to the Road Dawgs, a motorcycle club for active and retired officers. The men, who were wearing the club’s colors, took the vest because they believed it belonged to them, Blackden said.

Evans said Thursday that he had been a member of the Road Dawgs but resigned from the club last year. He didn’t comment further on the allegations but said he “didn’t break the law doing anything of that nature.”

Evans’s employment status hasn’t changed since he was charged, and Chief David Kranz said he and the selectmen were confident Evans “had no wrongdoing in the incident.” He is due in court June 18.

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