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Four dead, motive lacking

By STEVE SZKOTAK

NASHUA, N.H. -- A man with a criminal record shot to death three men and wounded two others before he was killed in a gun battle with a police officer, leaving the motive for the rampage a mystery, investigators said Thursday.

Rafael Rodriguez, 38, killed two men in separate inner-city Nashua apartments, shot two more men -- one fatally -- in Londonderry, before returning to Nashua and critically injuring a fifth man Wednesday night, police said.

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Police said the shooting spree ended at a Nashua gas station when a policeman, returning Rodriguez's gunfire, killed the suspect with a single shot, Police Chief William Quigley Jr. said.

Quigley said there was no apparent motive for the slayings and no known connection between Rodriguez and the victims.

'When somebody does something like this, it's hard to know what's in their mind,' Quigley said. Based on Rodriguez's past criminal record, which Quigley described as 'incidents of various severity,' police suspected the incident may have been drug-related.

'The only reason I say we suspect drugs is because of the knowledge we have of the suspect involved,' Quigley said. He said drugs were not found on Rodriguez or in the victims' apartments.

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Investigators said Rodriguez killed Jesus Santos, 22, of Nashua, and Richard Proulx, 41, of Lawrence, Mass., in separate apartments in Nashua. He then drove his red sports car to Londonderry, also in southern New Hampshire, where he shot two apple orchard workers in a warehouse, police said.

In Londonderry, Rodriguez allegedly shot and killed Nicarno Rodriquez, 49, and seriously wounded Julio Otero Rivera, 32, Londonderry Police Chief Kenneth Lynch said.

Rodriguez then returned to Nashua and shot Jose Soto, 20, police said.

Soto was listed in extremely critical condition while Rivera was in serious but stable condition.

The shootings occurred between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m., police said. Quigley declined to identify the officer who shot Rodriguez, citing department policy.

Quigley said all the victims were shot in the head.

Asked if Rodriguez may have continued his alleged shooting spree if he had not been stopped by police, Lynch said, 'That is unknown to us and the only person who knows that would be the suspect himself.'

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