By JASON SCHREIBER
Union Leader Correspondent
May 04. 2018 8:45PM
SOMERSWORTH — A lengthy police operation at a local apartment building resulted in numerous arrests and brought a heavy law enforcement response as authorities feared there could be firearms inside.
The operation began Thursday afternoon at a four-unit apartment building at 219 Green St. and continued Friday as police in tactical gear and an armored vehicle arrived at the property.
By Friday afternoon, five people were under arrest on a variety of drug charges, other charges and parole violations.
Police also continued to search for a sixth person wanted for questioning. He was identified as Robert Twombley, 39, of 219 Green St., Apt. C.
The incident appeared to be a standoff as police used a loudspeaker and called for a man named “Robert” to come outside numerous times, but by Friday afternoon it became clear that he wasn’t inside. A robot was sent into the building and determined that a SWAT team could enter and perform a sweep.
Police said the building was found to be clear and safe for investigators to execute search warrants. A search of the building continued into Friday night.
The incident, which closed a section of Green Street, began as an operation by Somersworth police to execute the search warrants with help from the Strafford County Drug Task Force and the U.S. Marshals Service.
Police said officers later learned that an AR-15 was inside one of the apartments along with a person convicted of firearms violations. Authorities decided to activate the Strafford County Regional Operations Unit and the Seacoast Emergency Response Team, a local tactical unit. The New Hampshire State Police SWAT team moved in Friday.
As the investigation progressed, police said they learned that other firearms may be involved, including a shotgun and three revolvers, which were believed to have been scattered throughout three of the apartments — two of which were subject of the search warrants, police said.
Police said they also learned that a person seen at the building was out on bail for possession of stolen firearms.
At one point during the operation, police arrested Samantha J. Beyer-Morele, 27, of 219 Green St., Apt. B, on a probation/parole warrant and Brett Turgeon, 29, of the same address, for violating probation/parole.
Police said transient Christopher Beckwith, 39, was also arrested and accused of absconding from drug court.
Others arrested were Brianna Y. Cruz, 19, of 108 Franklin St., Apt. C, in Somersworth, who was charged with possession of a controlled drug (methamphetamine), and Aiyla M. Griffin, 25, of 219 Green St., Apt. B, on a drug possession charge and bench warrant for a probation/parole violation, police said.
Shortly after the standoff ended Friday afternoon, a dog could be seen hanging its head out a shattered upstairs window. The dog was later removed from the building.
Another tenant who wasn’t involved in the criminal investigation was evacuated from the apartment building Thursday night and said he had to leave his 11-year-old pug named Pookie behind. He said he was worried about her safety, but she survived the standoff and was rescued by Friday afternoon.
“I don’t care about anything else,” the tenant said as he carried her away.
The incident left much of the neighborhood on edge for nearly 18 hours.
Cora Murphy, who lives in an apartment on nearby Indigo Hill Road, said she heard what sounded like about a dozen flash bangs around the residence.
Murphy’s sister, Larissa O’Brien, who lives with her, said she also heard the bangs.
“They were just giving warnings at first. We could hear them over the loudspeaker. They did quite a few flash bangs, actually, in front of the house and in back,” she said.
O’Brien said she went to bed and was surprised that the standoff was still continuing when she woke up Friday morning.