New Hampshire State Police

Terror in the North Country

Vermont State Police - Unofficial Site

by Trooper Ed Twohig
Vermont State Police

A Motor Vehicle Stop Gone Bad

     August 19, 1997 began as a typically beautiful bright sunny summer day in the North Country. Before the day was over, it had become a day so ugly that it will forever be remembered as one of the darkest days of this region's history. 
     Shortly before three in the afternoon, New Hampshire State Trooper Scott Phillips made a "routine" motor vehicle stop in a supermarket parking lot in the town of Colebrook, New Hampshire. The operator was 67 year old Carl Drega. 
     Drega was a resident of Colebrook who had long been disgruntled about local zoning ordinances. He had been
battling with the town officials for years and lived by himself in his home since the death of his wife several years prior. There was no way to know the level that the man's hatred for authority had grown to become, nor was there a way to know that he had quietly stockpiled an arsenal of weapons at his home in an apparent preparation for a day when he would abandon his legal pursuits, and embark on a premeditated plan of senseless murder. 
     Trooper Scott Phillips, a 32 year old family man and father of two young children was assigned to Troop F of the New Hampshire State Police. Young, and athletic with a friendly personality,

Scott Phillips was a popular figure in the small community of Colebrook, where he lived. A common sight in Colebrook was Scott pushing his son in a runner's stroller as he ran along the town's roads. Scott had been assigned to Troop F since coming on with the State Police in 1990. Troop F covers a land mass that is one third of the State of New Hampshire an d is staffed only by approximately three dozen Troopers. Trooper Phillips exemplified the characteristics of the men and women of Troop F: friendly and community oriented yet consistent in dealing with incidents which in larger departments are handled by multiple officers. Troopers in the North Country are few and far between. 
     Upon stopping for Trooper Phillips blue lights, Drega got out of his rusted old pickup truck and fired at Trooper Phillips with a semi-automatic assault rifle. Trooper Phillips returned fire but was wounded. A bullet that struck one of his hands hindered his efforts to reload his emptied pistol. Wounded and unable to reload his weapon, Trooper Phillips attempted to evade Drega and took advantage of some tall grass near by to conceal himself as he struggled to overcome his wounds and equipment difficulty. 
     In a very unlikely circumstance, Trooper Leslie Lord, also of Troop F happened to be in Colebrook at the time of the shooting. As mentioned above, Troopers in the North Country are customarily few and far between. Also a family man, Leslie Lord was married
and had two sons. He was a native of the North Country, having grown up in Pittsburg. He was active in his hometown, where he was active Chief of the Pittsburg. N.H. Fire Department and was very involved in snowmobiling where he was Trail Master for the Northern Corridor. A lifetime law enforcement officer, Leslie Lord had been the Chief of Police in Pittsburg, New Hampshire, had been a New Hampshire Highway Enforcement Officer for almost ten years before a merger joined Highway Enforcement with State Police and Leslie became a Trooper for approximately one year prior to this incident. 
     Seeing Trooper Lord entering the parking lot, Drega redirected his attention from the wounded Trooper Phillips to Trooper Lord. He fired his assault rifle at Trooper Lord's cruiser, striking it. One of the bullets pierced the side of the vehicle, and struck Trooper Lord, killing him. 
     The gunman then resumed his pursuit of Trooper Phillips into the tall grass, and killed him. 
     It was later learned that Drega was wearing body armor during this shoot-out with Trooper Phillips. 
     In a sick and twisted turn, the gunman then stole Trooper Phillips' cruiser. He drove it to The News and Sentinel newspaper in the town of Colebrook. 
    Attorney Vickie Bunnell was also a part time Judge and had ruled against Drega in more than one of his legal forays. He had threatened   [ Page 2 ]

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