Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

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December 21, 2011

WEB EXTRA: Murders in Andover are rare, archive shows

Last shooting death in town took place in 1991

Prior to the killing of the Magees, it had been 20 years since someone with Andover ties has been killed in town.

Over the span of 40 years, only five murders conclusively took place in Andover. A sixth murder was reported after a body was found along Route 125 in 2002, but it was never concluded whether the victim was killed in Andover or outside of town.

NOV. 1991: POSTAL WORKER SHOT

On Nov. 7, 1991, Andover police were called to the shooting of Andover postal worker David Bradner at an apartment building on Andover Street. Within days, the alleged shooter was found dead in his car in Maine, where it is believed he committed suicide.

In that week's Townsman, dated Nov. 14, 1991, one story covering the murder started with this quote: "Everybody here is relieved."

That was the feeling at the Andover Post Office, wrote reporter Don Staruk, now editor of two publications put out by Tree Care Industry Association.

"I used to be pretty heavy on the (police radio) scanner," said Staruk, when reached by phone this week. "We were right behind the ambulance responding to the scene. When we pulled up, we were ducking behind the ambulance because (retired Andover Police Officer Bob) Cronin was still in the door."

When they arrived, Cronin was one of just a couple police officers who were still searching for a shooter. Staruk recalled that Cronin's gun was drawn as they searched.

"They were staked out for a while because they didn't know where the shooter was," said Staruk. "They finally figured out the guy was long gone."

According to Staruk's stories published in 1991, earlier that day James Nelson, 31 and a tenant of the building, had hid in the building's foyer with a shotgun, waiting for Bradner. Bradner, who was delivering mail at the time, owed Nelson between $200 and $500 for a bathroom remodeling job that Nelson performed but had not yet been paid for.

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