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Most Witnesses Mum In Rampage That Left Four Dead, Two Badly Wounded

January 1, 1988

NASHUA, N.H. (AP) _ A shooting rampage that left four men dead and two others wounded may have been drug related, but witnesses have been reluctant to provide details, authorities said.

Nashua police said Thursday the gunman, Rafael Rodriguez, 38, had a history of drug arrests, including two indictments in June and July on cocaine- possession charges.

At the end of the rampage, Rodriguez was shot to death by an officer Wednesday night in a gasoline station parking lot, police said.

Police said Rodriguez was putting gasoline in a car after driving from a drug-ridden Nashua neighborhood to Londonderry about 10 miles away and back. During the trip, he shot five men once each in the head with a revolver, police said.

″We’ve talked to a lot of witnesses, but try to visualize that,″ Nashua Lt. Donald Hamel said in an interview at the police station. ″These people have to go back out on the street after they say what they say.″

One woman, however, who said she witnessed one of the two Nashua attacks, told a Maine television station Rodriguez apparently tried to collect a debt.

″He said that the guy who lived in this apartment owed him money,″ Lorene Flores, who lives in the neighborhood, told WCSH-TV. ″(Rodriguez) told him to come out and he wouldn’t come out. Then he started the shooting.″

″We suspect it’s drug-related, because of the suspect involved,″ Nashua Police Chief William Quigley said at a news conference.

Nashua, a fast-growing city of about 70,000 people on the Massachusetts border, is described by the state’s top federal prosecutor as a drug warehouse for eastern Massachusetts.

Londonderry’s acting police chief, Ken Lynch, said Rodriguez worked at the apple orchard where two of the shootings occurred and apparently was a distant relative of the man who died there, Nicanor Rodriguez, 59.

Lynch said that a detective hoped to question the survivor of the orchard shooting, Jesus Ortero Rivera, whose condition had been upgraded from critical to fair today at Parkland Medical Center in Derry.

The other survivor, Jose Soto, 20, of Nashua, remained in very critical condition at a Nashua hospital today, said a hospital spokeswoman.

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