Shooting suspect charged
A New London teen is in custody on a $100,000 cash bond.
Conditions of his bond include that he have no contact with his mother.
Austin D. Merryfield, 19, is charged with attempted homicide, reckless endangerment, discharging a firearm toward a vehicle, carrying a concealed weapon, criminal damage to property and disorderly conduct.
Shortly before 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 1, New London Police Sgt. Earl Ruckdashel was dispatched to the New London Travel Plaza parking in response to a shooting.
Ruckdashel met with 18-year-old JDH who had a bullet hole in his pickup truck.
JDH said he was driving north in the left lane on Shawano Street when a blue van pulled alongside him in the right lane. He saw a passenger raise a handgun and fire a shot into the side of his truck.
According to the criminal complaint, the shooter had a dark-colored scarf over part of his face, but JDH recognized him as Merryfield.
The driver was described as a middle-aged woman who hunched down when the shot was fired.
A 17-year-old passenger in the van, BKC, also recognized the shooter as Merryfield. He said he and Merryfield do not like each other.
A teen driver in a vehicle behind JDH’s pickup said the van cut hm off, then drove to the right of the van. He did not see the shooting, but he heard the pickup’s brakes squeal.
Police found a bullet hole near the front passenger door of the truck. It penetrated about 1/2-inch into the door frame.
Officers also found a bullet fragment in the far east lane of Shawano Street near the McDonald’s.
While the officers were gathering evidence, the blue van returned to the scene.
Austin and Julie Merryfield, Austin’s mother, exited the van and spoke to police.
Police say Julie Merryfield appeared upset. She said she did not know exactly what had happened until School Liaison Officer Chris Dearth called her on her cell phone and told her the police wanted to speak with her and her son.
She said they were driving on Shawano Street when Austin asked her to speed up and pass a vehicle. He then pulled something out of his pocket and she heard a loud bang, followed by Austin telling to “go, go.”
The mother said Austin told her it was only a cap gun and that he was pulling a prank, the complaint says. However, her ears were ringing and she suspected it was more than a cap gun.
When Dearth called, Austin allegedly told her not to answer her phone, then he asked her to lie about their whereabouts, the complaint says.
“Julie was very emotional and honest about everything she knew and the events that took place,” according to the complaint.
Austin told investigators that the weapon was a black .22-caliber handgun with a brown, wooden handle, which he threw into a body of water. Police have been unable to locate the gun.