SALISBURY -- Three police officers involved in the May fatal shooting of a local man who charged at them with a machete were formally exonerated by Essex County District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett yesterday, the conclusion of a months-long investigation into the harrowing incident.
Among the new details revealed in the report is that 29-year-old Nicholas Foster repeatedly implored police officers to shoot him as he marched towards them, wielding a knife and a machete.
“Kill me, kill me now," Foster said, according to the report.
Foster had stabbed his 28-year-old wife and another man inside an apartment at 150 Cable Ave., just before 1 p.m. on May 15. Attempting to flee the area, Foster was confronted by local police officers who were forced to shoot and kill him. Among those responding to the call were Sgt. Robert Roy, officer Michael Alder, Chief Thomas Fowler and Seabrook police Officer Justin Murphy.
The report also shows that it was Fowler and Alder who fired two shots each, killing Foster. Other details included in the report indicate that Murphy first tried to subdue Foster by shooting him with a Tazer. When the Tazer failed to make full contact with Foster, he charged police. According to Blodgett's report, Foster was armed with a 35-inch machete and a knife with a 7-inch blade.
The report also sheds more light on Foster's state of mind and his victims -- his wife Alice Zombie, and her friend Jack Gulmire of Abrams, Wisc.
"Based upon a thorough investigation of the facts surrounding the shooting and the case law pertaining to the use of force to defend oneself or another, it is determined that the officers reasonably believed Foster posed an immediate threat of killing or seriously injuring them or others. The officers therefore bear no criminal responsibility for shooting Foster," Blodgett wrote.
Yesterday, Fowler said he was pleased with the report's findings and added that it serves as a conclusion for the officers involved.
"This brings some closure to a tragic incident all around," Fowler said, adding his department would not be releasing any additional statements.
The report states that Foster and Zombie had married in 2010, but the relationship was troubled due to Foster's anger issues. The two shared an apartment at Salisbury Beach, next door to Zombie's father Joseph Hughes.
Foster had left to dog sit at his mother's home. In the meantime, Zombie -- who had changed her name from her birth name Tracie Hughes -- had invited Gulmire to stay with her overnight. Foster was convinced that the two were romantically involved, however Zombie insisted that they were just friends.
"She was afraid of Foster’s reaction to having someone at her apartment when Foster was not there. Zombie told Foster that he need not be worried about Gulmire staying overnight at her house because she would never leave Foster and did not have a relationship with Gulmire beyond being friends. She believed Foster thought that she and Gulmire were involved in a relationship, however, and Foster had text messaged her commenting on sex," according to the report.
According to the report, Zombie was watching television at around 12:45 p.m. with Gulmire when Foster entered the room and began pummeling Gulmire repeatedly. Eventually, Zombie realized Foster was stabbing her.
"She does not remember what happened after that because she passed out," the report states.
Moments later, Zombie's father arrived to hear screaming coming from his daughter's apartment. Foster had locked the door, however Gulmire managed to get to it and open it, enduring stab wounds in the process. Gulmire then raced downstairs and locked himself in a bathroom,with Foster in pursuit. Foster managed to break the hinges and swung his knife wildly at Gulmire.
Gulmire yelled for Hughes to call 911, and suddenly Foster broke off the attack and fled the house.
Noticing that Gulmire and his daughter had been stabbed, Hughes called 911.
According to Salisbury firefighters, Zombie had passed out as a result of her injuries. And while Gulmire remained conscious he sustained several stab wounds to the chest and abdomen.
"Zombie suffered many stab wounds: to an artery in her arm; her abdomen; an artery behind the stomach; the bile duct going through her liver; and the vein going through her spleen. Gulmire was airlifted to Mass General Hospital. He sustained 14 stab wounds, including three to the chest; one to the stomach; two to his side; one to the back; one to the leg; his hand is mangled," the report reads.
After stabbing two victims, Foster left the house in a maroon Toyota.
Two officers were heading to 150 Cable Ave. in separate cars. Sgt. Roy was forced to "jerk" his wheel to avoid Foster's car from hitting him. He radioed to the next responding car, driven by Alder, to stop the Toyota.
Foster rammed Alder's cruiser, which deployed the airbags, pinned Alder's legs and left him dazed.
Foster then got out of the Toyota, armed with a machete and a knife, and approached police.
Ordered by police to stop and drop his weapons, Foster instead continued to move toward them, wielding the machete. As Fowler arrived with an assault rifle, officers continued to order Foster to stop and put down his weapons, which he would not do.
According to Alder, Foster had a crazed look as he exited the car and began approaching officers.
"He then held up his arms and said, 'Shoot me. Go ahead, I give you my permission to shoot me.' Officer Alder kept asking him for his name and telling him that all was going to be OK. Also, Officer Alder transmitted that he was engaged with a man with a knife."
Foster's demeanor changed drastically when Murphy fired a Tazer at him, a weapon that send an electrical charge that immobilizes its victim. But the Tazer charge either missed or glanced, and Foster then charged at the officers.
Fowler and Alder fired two shots each, killing Foster.
There were numerous witnesses to the shooting, some of whom filmed it using their cellphones.
Immediately after the shooting, Fowler, Roy and Alder were placed on paid administrative leave, standard procedure leave whenever a gun is fired on duty. An investigation is conducted and officers must be cleared by a doctor before they return. Within a month of the incident, Alder, Roy and Fowler were back on duty.
Blodgett's report comes as his office is awaiting toxicology reports to determine whether Foster was under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the attack.
Essex County District Attorney's office spokeswoman Carrie Kimball-Monahan said the decision to release the report was made after determining that toxicology results wouldn't be available in the near future.