NORTH HAVERHILL, N.H. (AP) — A man charged with killing his 70-year-old mother in her room at a hospital intensive care unit had asked his stepfather to leave so they could be alone and then aimed a gun at her and fired several times, according to a police complaint released Wednesday.
Travis Frink, of Warwick, Rhode Island, pleaded not guilty to a first-degree murder charge in the death of his mother, Pamela Ferriere. He was being held without bail.
Ferriere, of Groton, was fatally shot Tuesday at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, where she was being treated for an aneurysm. Autopsy results completed Wednesday showed that Ferriere had been shot four times, including in the chest and abdomen and died from the gunshot wounds.
Frink, 48, was handcuffed and said nothing during the brief arraignment Wednesday in Grafton Superior Court in North Haverhill.
Prosecutor Jane Young asked that Frink have no contact with his stepfather, Bob Ferriere, who told police he saw Frink shoot her. Defense lawyer Rebecca McKinnon agreed to the request. She declined to comment afterward.
A police affidavit says Frink told officers he went to the hospital to kill his mother. No reason or motive was given.
"Who shoots their mother? Who does that? That is a sick person," said Patti Oakley, a neighbor of the Ferrieres'.
Oakley said "my heart was broken" when she heard the news and talked of a religious woman who loved the outdoors but never discussed her son. Bob and Pamela Ferriere moved to this remote forested neighborhood along a gravel road several years ago and Oakley said she couldn't recall Frink every visiting.
Oakley recalled how Ferriere made cookies for children on Halloween and talked of Ferriere telling her how she relished the laughter of the youngsters after Oakley asked whether they were being too noisy.
"She always had a smile," she said. "She was a very kind person."
The town of Groton put out a statement saying Pamela Ferriere was active in town government and in her local church, and she enjoyed gardening and biking with her husband.
"Pam will be missed, but we know she is with her Lord and Savior," the town said. "She was looking to be home from the hospital soon and back to her home that she and Bob shared and to her normal activities."
When Frink went to visit her Tuesday, Bob Ferriere was in the room and Frink asked to spend some time alone with his mother, authorities said.
Ferriere asked his wife if that was OK and she indicated yes, the affidavit said. As he was leaving the room, he heard her shout or scream, then turned and saw Frink pointing a gun at her, the affidavit said. After several shots were fired, Frink walked out of the room without saying anything, Ferriere told police.
Pamela Ferriere's nurse called 911, saying a visitor had pulled out a black handgun. When she saw the gun, the nurse ran and took shelter in a different room. She then heard two gunshots, followed by screams.
The hospital, New Hampshire's largest, was then placed on lockdown.
When asked about the shooting Wednesday morning by The Associated Press, Bob Ferriere said he had no idea why it happened. "I'm not a mind reader," he said, before hanging up. Outside his house, Bob Ferriere said he didn't want to discuss the shooting any further.
Frink was detained as he tried to leave the grounds of Dartmouth-Hitchcock, authorities said.
The affidavit said Frink also visited his mother earlier in her hospital stay. The nurse who called 911 told police she had been his mother's nurse for the past two weeks.
In 2013, Frink's ex-wife and her 3-year-old son were found dead inside a running car at an apartment complex in Rhode Island.
Police said that when officers opened the door of the running car with fogged windows, they found the inside of the vehicle very hot and smelling of alcohol and vomit. Officials said the body of Kathleen Frink was found in the driver's seat and the body of her son was found on the floor in the back of the car.
Police said at the time they ruled out foul play and suspected alcohol played in a role.
Frink's Facebook page shows he got engaged last December. His LinkedIn page includes a long list of experience in computer systems administration and technical support jobs in Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York and Massachusetts. Messages left with the company listed as his current employer weren't immediately returned.
Several of Frink's neighbors in Warwick said he mostly kept to himself.
Tuesday's shooting sparked panic at the hospital as employees and patients were evacuated into the parking lot. People were told to avoid the area around the hospital, and traffic was stopped on a route leading to it.
Officials at Dartmouth-Hitchcock said employees were well-trained to respond to the shooting. They said they are reviewing their security procedures but feel comfortable that they can continue to provide a safe environment for patients.
Associated Press writer Jennifer McDermott in Providence, Rhode Island, contributed to this report.
This story has been corrected to show Frink is 48, not 49.