RUMFORD – A police investigation into last week’s drive-by shooting of a 14-year-old Rumford girl with a toy gun has turned the victim’s father against Rumford’s police department.
Steve Bronish said early Tuesday evening that one of three youths in a moving car shot his daughter with some type of air gun on March 28 after calling her a derogatory name.
Police say it wasn’t an air gun but rather a spring-loaded Airsoft plastic toy “that spits Tic Tac-sized pellets.”
The projectile struck the girl at 3:03 p.m. on Somerset Street while she was walking home from Mountain Valley High School. It left a red mark that turned to a bruise the next day, Bronish said.
The incident also left the girl too traumatized to walk around town or to and from the school, he added.
“They have 14 full-time officers, and it’s taken them a week to investigate this?” Bronish asked. “To me, they’re treating it like it’s no big deal. My daughter never left the house this weekend. She’s terrified to walk down the street,” he added.
Investigating Patrolman Mark Cayer disagreed with Bronish’s assessment of the investigation. He said early Wednesday evening that police are taking it very seriously, and have made progress.
“That (case) is important to me, obviously, because it’s scary. He’s wrong. My partner and I have worked that case every shift, and have interviewed several juveniles,” he said.
Cayer said a male Mountain Valley High School student from Mexico has been identified as a possible suspect.
Bronish has been calling police since it happened to learn if they’ve charged anyone.
It is a Class D misdemeanor assault.
Bronish said Cayer told him on Sunday, that “they know who did it, they have the gun, and they left messages for the (suspects) parents to call them. I said, What’s the matter with going to their homes and knocking on the door?’ This is a small town, so it really bothers me,” Bronish said.
Cayer said he has gone to the house twice, but found no one home.
Additionally, he said he can’t go out and arrest the Mexico boy because the crime wasn’t committed in the presence of police. And, because it involves a juvenile, “we’re limited on how we can respond,” he added.
Police must first contact parents to gain permission to interview juvenile suspects.
“I understand that it’s frustrating for him, but the boy’s parents won’t respond,” Cayer said.
He said he was hoping to interview the boy to get a confession, but because Bronish has been “pushing so hard,” he is forced to summon the youth.
“They can throw a guy in jail for stealing a newspaper, but here’s a kid running around that shot my daughter. Yeah, I’m going to push it! My daughter is paranoid,” Bronish said Wednesday evening.
He said his daughter was confronted on Tuesday by a youth at the school.
“She said the kid asked her why she contacted the cops, then he said it wasn’t No big deal.’ But she said she told him it was a big deal, and that what if next time it was a real gun?” Bronish said.
Cayer said the summons is expected to be served by Mexico police on Thursday or Friday. After that, the case is to be turned over to juvenile intake.