US home engulfed in fireball after shots fired

Brentwood, New Hampshire: A New Hampshire police officer was shot dead after he responded to a domestic disturbance at a home that later exploded and burned, authorities said.

The gunman was presumed dead in the ensuing blaze.

Attorney-general Joseph Foster said late on Monday night, local time, that 48-year-old Stephen Arkell of Brentwood was shot when he answered the call in a suburban neighbourhood for people older than 55.

After the shooting, the house burst into flames. A massive explosion blew off the front of the house and within an hour, it was levelled.

Mr Foster said Michael Nolan, 47, the son of the homeowner, is the suspected gunman. He is presumed dead.

"The entire state of New Hampshire is in mourning over the tragic loss of Brentwood Officer Steve Arkell," said Governor Maggie Hassan. "Officer Arkell bravely answered the call of duty and made the ultimate sacrifice, a heroic demonstration of his commitment to the safety of his fellow citizens."Like so many of our first responders do on a daily basis, Officer Arkell courageously put his life on the line to protect others, and in doing so, was tragically taken far too soon."


Director of public relations at Exeter Hospital Debra Vasapolli said that one person was taken to the hospital but said that person was not the victim of a gunshot wound. She declined to provide more details.

Neighbour Wayne Hughes told the Portsmouth Herald that police responded to the house after neighbours heard an argument on Monday afternoon and called 911. His wife Susan said she saw a police officer arrive at the home and then heard "rapid gun fire".

She said she saw Walter Nolan, 86, being taken from the scene by ambulance before she was evacuated from the area. Public records indicate the house is owned by Mr Nolan and he apparently lived in the home with his son.

After the blaze started around 4pm local time, firefighters were kept away from the scene.

Aerial coverage from WMUR-TV showed flames burning through the roof of the house and an explosion punching out the front of the house shortly after 5.30pm. Within minutes of the explosion, the house was engulfed in flames as black smoke billowed over the neighbourhood.

After firefighters started attacking the blaze around 6pm, the fire was largely knocked down about a half hour 30 minutes later.