Mother of man killed by New Hampshire police wants answers
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- The mother of a 19-year-old Michigan man shot by police in New Hampshire says she is still struggling to understand just how her son was killed.
Lane Lesko, of Ann Arbor, Michigan, died of a single gunshot wound Tuesday on Route 136 in Peterborough. The Attorney General's office has released scant information on the incident, only saying that it is investigating the officer-involved shooting that followed a brief pursuit along the rural road. It has not said which department was involved nor released the names of the officer responsible for the shooting.
Lesko's mother, Patricia Lesko, told The Associated Press that her son was autistic and bipolar. She said she was told by the state Attorney General's office that he was brandishing a BB gun and running away when he was shot.
Jeff Strelzin, a senior assistant attorney general and chief of the homicide unit, acknowledged speaking with the mother but said he never used the word brandish. He refused to provide any further details on the shooting, adding his office is still investigating and waiting for additional evidence.
A week ago, the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department said authorities in the state and in Maine were searching for Lesko after he disappeared during a camping trip at Lake Umbagog (Uhm-BAY'gog). It was organized by a group called Summit Achievement, where Lesko was receiving treatment for his mental illness.
No one from Summit responded to a request for comment. But Patricia Lesko said her son is believed to have disappeared from the camp in the middle of the night and taken a canoe. Authorities said that a truck and a pontoon were believed connected to Lesko's disappearance.
"My first thought was that my son had drowned," Patricia Lesko said.
On Wednesday, she got a call from state troopers telling her that her son had been killed. "My first question was who murdered my son? Who shot my son?" she said.
She was then told that state troopers had shot him on a highway after they spotted him with a gun that later turned out to be a BB gun. She was also told that none of the officers involved were wearing body cameras and that the patrol cars with cameras were not in position to videotape the scene.
Lesko's son, whose funeral was Sunday, had several run-ins with the law over the years, which Lesko has blamed on his mental illness. Since 2015, he was accused of stealing a car from a Michigan dealership after claiming he was an FBI agent and then crashing it in Toledo. He also was accused of breaking into a neighbor's home and impersonating a law enforcement officer on several other occasions.
In the Toledo incident, Lesko pleaded guilty to unlawfully driving away a vehicle, first degree home invasion, lying to a police officer and false pretenses less than $200 in January, according to The Ann Arbor News. But the Michigan judge in the case, Washtenaw County Trial Court Judge Darlene O'Brien, delayed his sentence until 2017 so he could complete his mental health treatment, according to the newspaper.