Cop killer’s gun acquisition under investigation

The face of evil: Cullen Mutrie in a 2007 mugshot. Image: Greenland PD via Portsmouth Herald.

It was a typical small-town, small-time criminal case. Cullen Mutrie had once wanted to be a cop or firefighter but had had increasing numbers of brushes with the law, mostly for beating up girlfriends, using steroids and other penny-ante drug activity.  Now Mutrie was selling drugs again — oxycodone, an informant told the cops.

It was the last tough case that Greenland, NH police chief Michael Maloney wanted to get out of his in-box before he retired. He wanted to leave the new chief a clean desk, and picking up Mutrie, who’d always come along in the past, would tie up the transition in a nice little bow.

It didn’t work that way. Mutrie, for reasons we’ll never know, wasn’t going quietly: he met Maloney and officers from a regional drug enforcement task force with a barrage of gunfire. Four cops were wounded. Maloney was killed when he left cover to pull one of the wounded to safety. Sometime during the standoff that followed, Mutrie executed his girlfriend and accomplice, Brittany Tibbets, and then killed himself.

The crimes shocked the quiet New Hampshire Seacoast region. A few miles away, the adjacent town of Rye has been roiled by … nasty letters to the editor from road-hog bicyclists and angry motorists. Drugs and shootings, let alone cop-killing, don’t seem to “belong.”

In the aftermath of the violence, this question arose: as Mutrie was forbidden to own guns under the Lautenberg Amendment, how had he managed to rearm himself? His history of beating girlfriends led to several domestic violence charges, and, in July 2010, to the police arresting him and confiscating the guns in his house, a property his mother owned where he lived without any visible legal means of support. He’d once dreamed of being a firefighter, but that dream life apparently couldn’t compare to life in a run-down house on the fringes of society — but enhanced by drugs.

The wounded police officers, suing Mutrie’s mother (based apparently on rumors she has assets), have floated the story (without providing evidence) that Mutrie’s guns came from his mother. Now, for the first time, the authorities have spoken on the record about the original sources of Mutrie’s guns.

A 9mm pistol found at the scene where Cullen Mutrie shot five police officers, wounding four and killing Police Chief Michael Maloney, has been traced to Mutrie’s father, said Associate Attorney General Jane Young.

Mutrie had been barred from possessing weapons since his arrest for domestic assault in 2010. According to Young, the 9mm pistol found in his home after the April 12 shootings was sold in May 1989 to his father, Charles Mutrie, who died Jan. 10, 2010.

“I don’t know at this juncture how (Cullen Mutrie) got that weapon,” Young said.

The associate attorney general said she was also unsure if Mutrie’s mother Beverly knew her son had her late husband’s pistol.

It’s possible that Mutrie only obtained the gun after the cops seized the guns he owned in 2010. It’s also possible that he had it all along and successfully hid it; his domestic violence arrest came seven months after his father’s death. The provenance of the other gun found near Mutrie’s and Tibbets’s dead bodies is crystal clear, though.

Young previously said a second gun found at the scene, a .357 revolver, was bought in January at a Manchester gun show by Brittany Tibbetts, who was allegedly selling drugs with Cullen Mutrie from the Post Road residence where the shootings occurred. According to the attorney general’s office, after Cullen Mutrie shot the officers, he fatally shot Tibbetts, then himself.

via Cop shooter had deceased dad’s pistol, says AG | SeacoastOnline.com.

The paper which we’re citing here has used this as an example of the “gun show loophole” in action, but of course, it wasn’t. We have no way of knowing whether Tibbets knew Mutrie was DQ’d, and no way of knowing if she bought the gun for him or for herself. The degree of her involvement in his crimes is unclear even now, and despite the criminals’ being dead, the authorities have been extremely parsimonious with information, possibly to aid the cops’ lawsuit.

But Tibbets bought the .357 perfectly legally from a dealer, not a private seller, and passed a State of NH records check (which includes the FBI instant check plus the state disqualified-persons list, which had Mutrie, but not Tibbets, on it) at the time. If her intent was to give the gun to Mutrie (as seems probable) then she was committing a crime, but that didn’t deter her much as she was already a partner of some kind in the drug trafficking conspiracy.

Her error, of course, was to expect anything but crime, violence and mistreatment from a jerk whose history was one of crime, violence and mistreatment of his women, but to certain women that kind of male behavior is a concentrated aphrodisiac. Extremely poor judgment on her part, but it’s possible to have a smidgen of sympathy for her.

Until you think about Chief Maloney and how her actions and Mutrie’s punished the good chief for his impulse to duty. Think about that, and your only wish for Mutrie and Tibbets is that they burn in hell.

In any event, this case illustrates how a criminal like Cullen Mutrie can leverage his personal relationships to gun up when the law is happy in false confidence that they have disarmed him.

UPDATE, sort of: the MAC-11 toting crim from the same small New Hampshire town (whom we covered earlier this week in “Blaster from the Past”), had three bizarre connections to this case. First, he told friends he was going to shoot cops rather than be taken in (unlike Mutrie, he didn’t, but went quietly. Just goes to show you can’t trust what a crim says). Second, he told those friends that Mutrie “should have shot more cops.” Third — and here’s where the small scale of the New Hampshire seacoast really appears — turns out that the slain Chef Maloney was the would-be cop-killer’s ex-father-in-law.

Is that about as weird as it gets?