WALPOLE, N.H. -- The man shot and killed by police following a robbery in Bellows Falls, Vt., on Friday had been listed as a fugitive after failing to meet with his parole officer nearly two years ago, according to the N.H. Department of Corrections.
Larry Bohannon, 51, of Grafton, N.H., had a criminal history spanning 20 years when he died of gunshot wounds to the head, chest and abdomen after allegedly robbing the Snow & Lear/Newton Business office supplies store, New Hampshire Attorney General Michael Delaney said in a statement Saturday. The press release stated Bohannon fled the store with an undisclosed amount of cash Friday afternoon and was tracked down over the Connecticut River, where he was killed by Walpole and/or Alstead police officers on Upper Walpole Road following a pursuit.
The robbery was reported around 4:15 p.m. but the press release did not say who fired first or if Bohannon shot his weapon.
Jeffrey J. Lyons, public information officer with the N.H. Department of Corrections, said Bohannon was convicted in 1994 of kidnapping in Sullivan County and bail jumping in Cheshire County. He was sentenced to serve two to 20 years and was released on parole in 1996. He returned to prison later that year on a parole violation, until he was released in March 1997.
He found himself behind bars again, 10 years later, when another parole violation kept him locked up until June 16, 2008. Lyons said Bohannon was placed on fugitive status when he failed to meet with his parole officer on July 21, 2011, and his whereabouts were unknown until Friday.
Lyons said the case is now closed.
An employee of the Snow & Lear/Newton Business said Monday no one was prepared to make a statement but said a customer named Sarah Ovenden got the first digits of Bohannon's vehicle and was partially responsible for him being located by police.
Ovenden told the Reformer she had visited the store earlier in the day to request a day planner be specially ordered for her. She said she returned later in the afternoon and found owner Nancy Stanifzwski in the front of the store. Ovenden said she asked about her day planner and Stanifzwski said she first had to give money to a man in the back of the shop.
Ovenden said she walked with Stanifzwski to the back, where a man wearing a mask jumped out from behind some dividers and started shouting at her to look away and get on the floor.
"I thought it was it was prank and I got pretty belligerent because I didn't see the gun. It did not occur to me that it was a robbery. I thought it was kids being jerks," Ovenden said on Monday. "Then I saw Nancy give him the money and Nancy went to her desk and put her hands over her head. Then I realized it was a robbery."
Ovenden said Bohannon went out the front door and she told Stanifzwski to call 911 while she followed Bohannon outside to try to get a license plate number. She said she saw Bohannon take his mask off and get into a black Chevrolet and she started shouting the license plate number out loud as a way of remembering the figures. Ovenden said Bohannon then took a gun out of his waistband or pocket and pointed it at her, causing her to run back into the store and get Stanifzwski to lock the doors.
She said it was, in hindsight, a "stupid thing to do" because she could have been harmed.
Ovenden said the police were on the scene within seconds and officers got her information on the scanner quickly. She followed the situation but said there was no relief knowing the man has been killed. The Bellows Falls resident said the most disheartening part was reading Bohannon's criminal history in the newspapers.
"I was hoping it was some guy who desperately needed money to put into his gas tank so he could get to a job interview. You'd like to think it was that," she told the Reformer. "Reading about his criminal record was pretty unsettling. We were really lucky to not have been hurt."
Despite the scare, Ovenden said she has already returned to the store and will continue to shop in The Square.
"This incident does not define our village at all. It could have happened anywhere -- it just happened here," she said. "It is not a reason to live in fear."
Bohannon was one of two men arrested by police in New Hampshire in connection with the kidnapping of Donald Coull, of Claremont, in October 1993, according to an Associated Press article published in the Sun-Journal (Lewiston, Maine) on Nov. 16, 1993. The article reports that Bohannon and David Ward, of Keene, abducted Coull on Oct. 18 to recoup a reportedly stolen generator. Coull told police after the incident that he was lured into a pickup truck in Claremont, shackled and driven around for three hours before being released in Bellows Falls. He was not hurt in the incident.
According to Delaney, Dr. Thomas Andrew, the Chief Medical Examiner for New Hampshire completed the autopsy on Bohannon and determined that he died of the gunshot wounds he received during the stand-off with police. Delaney worked with New Hampshire State Police, Walpole Police, and Alstead police on the case.
In a post on the Walpole Police Department Facebook page, officers thanked residents for their thoughts, prayers and support in the wake of the shooting.
"As you all can imagine, it's been a busy night. We're all fine and will get through this. Just a reminder that it can, and does happen in smaller towns," the post states.
Domenic Poli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoli_reformer.